Routine wellness screening is an essential component of your pet’s veterinary care, and can help ensure your pet lives a long, happy, and healthy life. You may question why your healthy pet requires diagnostic testing, and the simplest answer is that wellness screenings are a powerful preventive tool to maintain your pet’s current health status and allow for the detection of a problem in its earliest stage. Our Terra Linda Veterinary Hospital team describes common wellness screening tests and explains the valuable information they provide about your pet’s health.
Common wellness screening tests for pets
Annual wellness visits are the best way to keep your pet healthy throughout every life stage. During this preventive care visit, your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination and appropriate screening tests based on your pet’s age, breed, lifestyle, and health status. A regular pet wellness visit may include the following screening tests:
- Blood work — A complete blood count (CBC) assesses various components of your pet’s blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. A CBC can help identify conditions such as anemia, infections, blood cancers, and autoimmune disorders.
- Chemistry profile — A general chemistry profile provides valuable information about your pet’s overall health, metabolism, and organ function—especially their liver, kidneys, and pancreas. This screening test can also help identify a variety of conditions, including kidney or liver disease, diabetes, and hormonal imbalances.
- Urinalysis — Urinalysis assesses your pet’s overall urinary tract health and provides insight into their glucose regulation and liver function. Urinalysis can detect urinary tract infections (UTIs) and crystals, and help your veterinarian diagnose diabetes, liver disease, and prostate cancer.
- Fecal tests — A fecal test checks for intestinal parasite eggs. These internal parasites live in your pet’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract and can leach your pet’s nutrition and cause GI issues. A fecal test can identify parasites such as Giardia, hookworms, tapeworms, and roundworms, which can make your pet seriously ill.
- Blood-borne parasite testing — Heartworm and tick-borne diseases can cause serious, potentially life-threatening, health conditions. Knowing your pet’s parasite status is important, so your veterinarian can begin treatment promptly.
- Thyroid panel — A thyroid panel is a blood test that measures the thyroid hormone levels in your pet’s bloodstream. Your veterinarian will perform this screening test to diagnose thyroid conditions such as hypothyroidism (i.e. low thyroid hormone levels) or hyperthyroidism (i.e. high thyroid hormone levels). Your veterinarian may recommend a thyroid panel for your senior pet, because older pets have a high thyroid disease risk.
- Blood pressure — A blood pressure test measures the blood’s pressure against the large arteries’ walls. Senior pets are more likely to develop hypertension in conjunction with other health issues, such as heart disease and kidney dysfunction.
Normal wellness screening test results are beneficial to your pet’s health
Wellness screening tests are incredibly important—even when your pet appears healthy. Normal results provide many benefits, including:
- Establishing your pet’s health baseline — Wellness testing benefits—especially for young pets—include establishing a diagnostic baseline. Knowing your pet’s normal levels and assessing trends over time helps your veterinarian identify and treat abnormalities that arise as your pet ages.
- Detecting disease early — Dogs and cats are experts at hiding pain, illness, and disease signs, and rarely show their owners that they are experiencing a health issue. Regular wellness screenings can detect hidden disease, which may not otherwise have been detected until your pet is seriously sick. By catching a disease in its earliest stage, your veterinarian can provide your pet with the most straightforward treatment, offering the best prognosis.
- Improving your pet’s quality of life — Wellness testing can detect emerging medical issues that threaten your pet’s quality of life. By detecting these problems before a disease progresses, your veterinarian can create a tailored treatment plan to manage, slow, or eliminate the issue while preventing further deterioration of your pet’s health and helping ensure your pet lives a happy, healthy, and long life with you.
- Saving money on veterinary costs — Regular wellness screenings’ cost save you money in the long run. Advanced diseases are typically more expensive to manage and treat than the cost of routine screening tests and treatment for a disease in its early stage. In addition, advanced disease may require referral to a specialist, extra diagnostic testing, and lifelong medication.
Wellness screening tests are key to helping maintain your pet’s health throughout their life. To schedule your pet’s annual preventive care visit, contact our Terra Linda Veterinary Hospital team.