Your pet’s health is valuable, and our Village Veterinary Hospital team’s goal is to keep your pet healthy, happy, and by your side as long as possible. Therefore, we recommend that all pets visit us at least annually for a wellness examination and preventive care services, such as vaccine boosters and parasite control. We may also recommend extra wellness screening tests based on your pet’s age, breed, lifestyle, and health history, to gain valuable information that we can’t see or measure during a physical examination alone.
Most pets are relatively healthy during their young adult years, but as the aging process accelerates and pets approach their senior years, new issues can seem to pop up frequently. Wellness screening tests are valuable for all life stages, both to establish their baseline normal and to detect new issues in the early stages. We explain the screening tests we perform regularly, and why they are worthwhile for your pet.
Blood and urine pet wellness tests
Blood and urine screening tests give our veterinary team information about your pet’s internal health status. They help us check the following:
- Liver, kidney, and pancreatic function
- Cholesterol levels
- Electrolyte and hydration levels
- Infection or inflammation signs
- Red blood cell count and function
- Clotting status
Wellness blood and urine tests are beneficial for pets in all life stages, but especially for middle-aged or senior pets, who are more likely to develop problems. Small changes in blood values can be transient, or indicate that a larger problem is beginning. We may recommend repeating the blood or urine tests in a few weeks to confirm the findings, or recommend additional tests to find the root cause.
Pet parasite screening tests
We recommend basic parasite screening tests for every pet at every annual visit. Common intestinal parasites can be picked up from other pets or the environment, and heartworms are transmitted by sneaky mosquitoes. For pets on monthly preventives, parasite testing can confirm the medications are working properly, and maintain the preventive manufacturer’s guarantee.
Recommendations likely include a fecal examination and a blood heartworm antigen test. Intestinal parasites are easily treated with prescription deworming medications, and they must be eliminated to protect other pets and human family members. Heartworms are more serious and require complex treatment, so testing annually is essential for early detection.
Pet heart function screening tests
We may recommend heart function screening tests for breeds at high risk for heart disease, or as routine screening of older pets. High blood pressure is a risk for all pets, but breeds at highest risk include the boxer, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, dachshund, and Doberman pinscher. Heart function and associated testing may include:
- Blood pressure testing
- Chest X-rays
- Heart ultrasound (i.e., echocardiogram)
Reasons to invest in pet wellness screening tests
You may hesitate to agree to wellness screening tests when your pet appears healthy and is acting normally. But wellness screening tests are worth the cost, even when the results are normal, for many reasons, including:
- Establishing a baseline — Wellness screening testing for a young, healthy pet can help our team learn your pet’s normal baseline values. Knowing your pet’s normal gives us a basis for comparison should your pet get sick, and we can more easily detect subtle changes.
- Tracking trending values — Sometimes blood or urine values change slightly, but remain in the laboratory’s established normal range. By monitoring these minute changes closely each year, we can watch for consistent trends that could indicate an early disease process, and take steps to reverse or slow the changes.
- Detecting disease early — The aging process accelerates as your pet approaches their senior years, which means diseases can pop up at any time. Tracking trends and monitoring screening tests each year enables our team to detect diseases in the early stages, before they become a bigger, more difficult to treat, and more expensive problem.
The best way to keep your pet healthy and happy well into their senior years is to keep close track of their health status through wellness screening tests. Investing more upfront can lead to fewer problems and easier, less expensive treatments down the line. Contact the Village Veterinary Hospital team to learn more about our life-stage wellness offerings, or to schedule your pet’s next wellness exam and screening tests.