As a loving dog owner, you make every effort, within your power to keep your dog healthy and happy. Combining annual blood tests with the yearly wellness exam of your dog is a comprehensive way to monitor his overall health and well-being. Many dog owners are under the impression that annual blood tests are not really necessary if their dog is in good health and shows no signs of impending illness.
Why Are Annual Blood Tests Important?
Blood tests often reveal information that a physical examination cannot. For example, with a blood test, your dog’s veterinarian may be able to catch an infection, liver disease or diabetes long before physical symptoms become obvious. Early treatment usually means a better outcome. Annual blood tests will also give your veterinarian a normal result to keep on file and reference later on in the event your dog become ill in the future.
In some cases, veterinarians are able to reach an accurate diagnosis based on the results of blood work alone. However, there are also instances when further testing will need to be carried out in order to work out exactly what’s going on. The results of the blood work can serve as a guide and help your vet determine what the next step should be.
What Does a Blood Test Reveal About the Health of a Dog?
Most blood tests include a CBC and chemistry panel. A CBC (Complete Blood Count) will measure the number of platelets, red blood cells and white blood cells in your dog’s blood. It will also measure hemoglobin levels and the concentration of red blood cells. Any changes seen in a dog’s CBC may be an indication of anemia, infection or even allergies.
The chemistry panel will check the levels of liver enzymes, protein, electrolytes, glucose and kidney values. Any changes in these levels may be an indication of more serious illnesses, such as kidney failure or diabetes.
These blood tests are usually accompanied by a urine test, which checks for blood, protein, white blood cells, and glucose. A urinalysis also measures the urine specific gravity, which determines whether or not your dog can concentrate his urine normally.
Which Tests Should be Performed Regularly?
A CBC, urinalysis and chemistry panel will provide your vet with a clear picture of your dog’s health. These tests serve as a baseline and will be compared to blood work performed when your pet inevitably gets sick. Lab work is often recommended when a dog becomes ill, to help reach a diagnosis. It is also recommended before surgical procedures are performed, just to make sure all the internal organs are working as they should.
If you have a complete set of blood tests performed on your dog each year, the results will help your vet to diagnose problems early and provide necessary treatment to them immediately. The small investment in the tests could not only save you larger expense, but it could save your dog’s life.