Your veterinarian’s primary focus is on preventative care, which means helping your pet maintain good health. In order to accurately determine your pet’s general health, or to properly diagnose a particular condition or issue, your veterinarian may need to go beyond simple visual examinations and perform a variety of tests. Part of the reason for this is just good sense–a thorough examination is more likely to result in an accurate determination of the pet’s health and can even help to detect minor issues that can be resolved prior to becoming major issues. Another reason for performing certain tests at certain times is that your pet cannot communicate to you or the veterinarian about how they feel, what’s bothering them and where they may feel less than normal or comfortable. Not only this, but many pets are absolute experts at hiding their discomfort or pain, which means that tests are sometimes the only way the veterinarian can determine whether a problem is occurring.
The Use of Blood Tests
Just as is the case with many other types of health tests, blood tests can provide the veterinarian with specific information that they cannot learn any other way. A blood test can yield a complete blood count, or CBC, which can identify and quantify white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. This helps the veterinarian to understand the shape and condition of the cells and therefore how they affect your pet’s immune system and their capacity to carry oxygen. A blood test can also help the veterinarian to determine levels of glucose, proteins, electrolytes, cholesterol, endocrine levels, digestive enzymes and more in the system. Needless to say, this can help the veterinarian to determine whether there are imbalances that may be contributing to health issues, and exactly what these imbalances are.
Another wonderful benefit of blood tests is that chemicals that correlate with specific organs can be discovered in the bloodstream, giving the veterinarian clues about what may be happening in the pet’s system. As an example, a blood test that shows an albumin deficiency will lead the veterinarian to more deeply check the condition of the pet’s liver, since this is where albumin is produced. As another example, a blood test that detects abnormal hormonal-chemical responses to either environment or internal stimuli can shine light on the fact that the pet may be suffering an endocrine system issue.
When Blood Tests are Normally Recommended
Blood tests are normally recommended:
- During the pet’s first veterinary visit. This can help the veterinarian to gather important information about your pet, giving them baseline information, to serve as pre-anesthesia testing before sterilization surgery and to rule out congenital diseases in young pets.
- During the pet’s semi-annual wellness examinations. Blood tests are not automatically taken during all semi-annual wellness examinations, but if the veterinarian wants to gather additional information about the dog’s health that cannot be determined through physical examination alone, they may recommend them.
- When the pet seems a bit “off” and there’s no clear reason why. The veterinarian will want to run blood tests on a pet that is not acting normally, but that does not have obvious signs of illness or injury.
- Prior to administering anesthesia. The health of the pet’s liver and kidneys are always assessed prior to the administration of anesthesia. This can help the veterinarian to determine whether anesthesia will be safe for the pet, and what kind or amount of anesthesia is best to use.
- Prior to the pet taking a new medication, and sometimes while a pet takes medication. Once again, the health of the liver and kidneys is checked in order to ensure that the new medication is safe, or that the current medication isn’t causing damage to the liver or kidneys.
- During the pet’s senior wellness examination. Once a pet has reached their senior years, the veterinarian will want to perform a blood test during every wellness exam just to ensure that any health issues they encounter are diagnosed and treated rapidly.