Why do blood tests in young healthy looking dogs & cats?
Blood tests are used to determine a large number of medical problems, ranging from organ function to parasites. It is most often used as a first means of diagnosis whenever a dog or cat falls ill. As it is convenient to run in the vet clinic itself, results can be available within 1 hour. Blood tests result offers a lot of information for the 1 process and does not require any risky procedures.
Pet owners are quite familiar with vets requesting permission to run blood tests before their pet goes for a surgery, or when they have to be on certain types of strong medications for a lengthy period of time. Elderly pets often get yearly or twice yearly blood tests to monitor liver and kidney function as part of their health check as well.
Why then do vets want to do these tests on an apparently healthy looking pet?
Animals have a much higher threshold for pain and illness. They have a strong instinct to look healthy, otherwise they get bullied. Dogs and cats continue to eat normally despite broken bones and multi surgeries. Whereas we people, look like we are already half-dead. Until such time when we can doggie-talk or kitty-speak, we can never be completely sure about what is going on. Blood tests can help give us an accurate picture. Internal parasites such as heartworm and tick fever can be silent diseases waiting to manifest themselves. Unless you know the full history of your pet, bloodtests will identify the presence of these deadly parasites before the disease becomes incurable.
Trending your pets liver and kidney functions and complete blood count is a useful way of knowing what is normal for your pet. Every year or 2, perform these basic health screen parameters so that you have a set of figures for YOUR individual pet. For those of you who have had blood tests done for yourselves or your pet, you will know that the results are compared against The Normal Range.
These numbers are compiled using the results of thousands of animals and setting average, lower and upper limits. Trending blood test results allow each pet to have their own normal values. A sudden increase or decrease in the values compared to previous years could indicate early stages of organ/cell dysfunction even if they are still within The Normal Range.
We cannot avoid ageing or illness due to old age, but by picking it up earlier, we can definitely take steps to slow down the progress of the illness.
Dr Gloria Lee
BSc BVMS Murdoch
Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre (Mandai)
Formerly AMK Veterinary Surgery