Medicine is an adapting science- as it evolves, we similarly evolve to provide better care. "Fire Engine" medicine was the norm years ago, only seeing the doctor when there was an emergency. Now, we strive to practice preventative medicine- identifying and treating issues before they cause major health abnormalities. The old adage, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is of the upmost truth and importance.
It is for this reason that human doctors perform yearly bloodwork, even when we are young and healthy. At our Veterinary clinic, we are no different. Before any anaesthetic procedure we perform wellness bloodwork, especially before spay or neuter surgery when our patients are a year of age or less. Monitoring kidney and liver values at a young age will help identify certain genetic issues causing organ insufficiency, but also gives us a baseline for comparison for when your pet is ill in the future.
What a difference a year makes! Remember, pets age much faster than we do. One year of their life can be akin to anywhere between 6 to 9 years of our lives. Yearly bloodwork is always a great idea, but even more so when our pets become seniors. In most dogs and cats, we consider a get to be a senior when they've surpassed seven years of age.
Here are some examples of blood tests we perform to identify abnormalities with our patients:
The kidneys are a paired organ which helps excrete toxins into urine, regulates blood concentration and pressure, and red blood cell production. Parameters such as Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN), Creatinine and Urine testing help elucidate function of the kidneys. A newer parameter to us, SDMA, helps to identify when damage to the kidneys exceeds 25%, instead of waiting for BUN or Creatinine to elevate- which may only occur when over 75% damage has occurred!
There are a few liver enzymes which are either released when liver cells die, or if they leak out of the cell. Monitoring these trends over time help us to know overall liver health. With very small breeds, often we will even perform a liver function test called Bile Acids, to help us identify possible genetic issues which may pose complications with anesthesia.
Organs very close to the liver, there are some blood values which give us hints as to whether these organs are functioning well. If there are any abnormalities with these values, we may recommend other imaging tests such as abdominal ultrasounds to look into the issue further.
Complete Blood Count
This panel of tests examines numbers and structure of Red and White Blood Cells in the bloodstream, helping to identify if there are infections or inflammatory issues which may be present.
Sodium/Potassium and other Ions
Vomiting, reduced absorption or increased loss will change concentrations of these ions. When it proceeds to one extreme or the other, we may need to intervene with treatments.
These are just a few examples of the parameters we evaluate with our wellness blood panels, depending on the blood panel which is chosen for your pet. Help us find issues before they become major health concerns!