When being told that your pet needs to have blood work run, many owners just aren’t aware of what that entails.What does running blood work do? Why does my pet need it done every year, or even twice a year? Isn’t it just for if my pet is sick or during an emergency situation?
Blood work allows the doctor to determine a variety of things concerning your pets internal wellness; organ function, blood cell function and infections are just some of the things that running a blood panel will help check.
A blood chemistry will show how the internal functions of the body are doing. Kidneys, liver and pancreas are all checked. Kidney’s are responsible for filtering metabolic waste from the blood stream before being transferred to the bladder. The liver has multiple functions such as cleaning our blood and breaking down nutrients. The pancreas helps with digestive enzymes and hormones for metabolism. The chemistry profile will also check the blood glucose levels, electrolyte levels, and how the thyroid is performing. Thyroid disease is very common in older patients.
Hematology will help screen the red and white blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen through the body and white blood cells help to fight off infections. Knowing how both of these are measuring up can be very important to your pet. Platelets are also checked. These are responsible for preventative bleeding.
A urinalysis is often run with your blood work. This can help to identify infection within the urinary tract. It can also help identify problems related to the kidneys and liver.
Running blood work on a sick patient allows the doctor to make immediate decisions regarding that pets health. But this isn’t the only time blood work should be run.
Blood work should also be run as preanesthetic testing. This way the doctor will know if your pet is safe to go under anesthesia or if there are any added precautions that need to be taken. A perfectly healthy looking pet can have an underlying condition that may need to be addressed.
This is often a good case for running preventive care screenings. These yearly or bi-yearly blood work screens are helpful in tracking your pets health. If something looks abnormal on a preventative screen it can be monitored in the future. Knowing what’s normal for your pet will help determine what to do when something isn’t normal. Internal changes can also occur more rapidly as we age. A senior pet will generally have a recommendation of running blood work twice yearly so that changes can be caught earlier on. Pet’s are very stoic about things and will often not show signs of anything abnormal until it’s become something severe.
Another reason for running blood work is monitoring the effectiveness of a new medication. We want to ensure that the medication is working correctly at its current dosage and not having an adverse effect on the body.
Many of our blood panels include heart worm tests. Heart worms, though not as prevalent in our area, are still a dangerous and life threatening problem. Treatment of heartworms is expensive and painful, and unfortunately it is not currently available in the United States.
If you have further questions regarding blood work and the panels that we run, please feel free to ask your veterinarian. They are more than happy to go over in depth the results of your tests. And as with all blood panels, please fast your pet before your appointment. Fasting allows us to obtain the most accurate results.