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August 16, 2019

How does your pet speak to you? Is it a bark when they’re happy or meow when they’re hungry? Possibly your pet brings you a favorite toy for you to enjoy. At night, when you’ve had a long day, does your pet cuddle up next to you and remind you that you are loved? Your pet is there for you when you need them, but do you hear everything they’re saying? Do you always know when something is wrong? Our pets are fantastic communicators but sometimes our furry friends can’t tell us with a look or wiggle about what is important regarding their health. When your dog or cat can’t “speak” you have an opportunity to be the loudest voice for them and their health through Wellness Blood Screenings.

What are Wellness Blood Screenings you are probably asking? Wellness Blood Screenings are a series of tests that help to create baselines for a pet’s yearly bloodwork and can help detect subtle changes in your pet’s health and can potentially assist in the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases. Without annual screenings, 1 in 7 adult pets, 1 in 5 senior pets, and 2 in 5 geriatric pets remain undiagnosed for conditions and diseases that could have potentially been treated proactively. Therefore, it is paramount to include annual screenings along with annual vaccines when our furry friend comes in for a yearly exam.

What are these tests screening for you may wonder? Let’s delve further into each test and what information is revealed to the doctor.

Complete Blood Count or a CBC, is a test that measures the type of cells and components that make up a sample of blood. The types of cells and components that are being evaluated are Red Blood Cells, White Blood Cells, Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, and Platelets. This test can distinguish the size, shape, volume, and development stages of the cells in the blood. But what is the importance of the different cells and components?

Red blood cells (RBCs) carry oxygen to the body and when the doctor evaluates the RBCs they are looking for the number present in the blood. If a low count of RBCs is noted it can be indicative of anemia (lower than normal count of cells) or other issues.

Hemoglobin (HB or Hgb) is a protein that helps attach oxygen to RBCs allowing the RBCs to deliver oxygen to the body. If there are abnormalities seen, it may be sign of oxygen depleted blood, and another indicator of anemia.

Hematocrit (Hct) determines the percentage of RBCs to the plasma, fluid component, in your blood. Dependent upon the level of hematocrit it may indicate to a doctor if a pet is dehydrated or malnourished, among other diagnoses.

Platelets are the component in the blood that contributes to clotting. When a doctor looks at platelet count, variations may indicate more serious conditions like cancer.

Chemistries using blood serum help the doctor to assess organ function. The chemistries look at kidney and liver function, blood proteins, thyroid hormone levels, glucose, and electrolytes in the blood. Each of these areas can be an indicator of a healthy pet or a pet in need of diet change, medication, or more stringent care.

Urinalysis is a test that includes many components that allow the doctor to determine if inflammation or infection is present in the urinary bladder. It can also let the doctor know how well the kidneys are concentrating the urine, if crystals (which can form bladder stones) are present, if the urine has a higher concentration of glucose, or if bacteria are present.

Each of these tests focuses on a distinct part of the inside of your pet and let’s the veterinarian obtain an accurate picture of your pet’s health. Without them, baselines are not created in your pet’s medical history, and crucial information about their internal care may be missed. It is the most effective way to provide whole body care for your furry loved one.

Wellness Blood Screenings are easy and can be done at every annual visit. So next time your pup or kitty looks in your eyes, know they are saying “Thank you” for being their advocate when it comes to their present and future health with Wellness Blood Screenings. They know you love them; Wellness Blood Screenings are just another way of “speaking” it.

Authors: Liz Thomas, RVT and Molly Hafer

July 19, 2019

Part of owning a pet, aside from loving your pup or kitty, and providing them a nurturing home, healthy diet, and stimulating environment, is providing for their physical well-being with semi-annual or annual exams.  At these appointments, your furry friend is given a full health check-up, vaccines are updated, and a heartworm test is performed, with pats and treats included.  But some owners may leave their veterinary office wondering, “what are heartworms, how does my pet get heartworm disease, and why is it important for my pet to be screened yearly and treated monthly to prevent this disease?”  Today we are going to delve into these questions to better understand the causes and reasons for protecting your pet from heartworms.    


The “What” of Heartworms  


Heartworms, or Dirofilaria Immitis, are internal parasites that can infect both dogs, and to a lesser extent, cats (infections in cats are less frequent, typically involving fewer parasites, and are hard to detect).  These parasites are transmitted through larvae (immature worms) via the bite of an infected mosquito.  There are more than seventy species of mosquitoes capable of transmitting heartworms, making pets highly vulnerable to infection. Once the larvae have been transmitted to the host, aka your pet, these larvae mature as they travel through the tissue until eventually finding their new home and residing in the heart and arteries of the lungs of your pup or kitty.  These worms can mature, or grow, to the length of 5-6 inches in male worms and 10-12 inches in female worms.  Once the worms have matured and established occupancy in your pet’s heart and lungs, they will seek to mate and produce microfilaria (early-stage larvae), which will then be dispersed into your pet’s bloodstream.  When a mosquito stops to make a tasty treat of your furry friend, they will become infected with the microfilaria, and go off to re-initiate the life cycle of the Heartworm.


The “How” of Heartworm Disease


Once your pet has been infected with heartworms it will result in a clinical disease as the number of worms increases in the vessels and the heart of your pet.  Initial signs that heartworms are present may include panting, coughing, and a decreased tolerance for exercise.  If the disease is allowed to progress unchecked, it can lead to heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), sudden collapse, and eventually, heart failure.  Retroactive treatment for an active infection involves repeated anti-parasitic injections, lengthy cage/crate rest, extensive cost, and a good deal of discomfort for your pet.


The “Why” of Heartworm Screening and Preventatives


In 2018 alone, there were 2,528 reported cases of canines positive for heartworms in Ohio, with 274 of those cases occurring in Franklin County.  Ohio is no stranger to the mosquito or the larvae it may carry.  At your semi-annual or annual appointment, it is important to screen your pet with a heartworm test to detect possible heartworm infections.  It is also important to administer routine heartworm preventative medication to protect your pet from infected mosquitos.  Due to the moist climates in Ohio, it is recommended to keep your dogs, and occasionally cats (routine prevention should be considered for kitties with a high risk of exposure to mosquitos), on preventatives year-round to keep them safe.  There are a variety of preventative options, from chewable to topical to injectable, that can be used to keep your furry friend safe.  Your veterinary doctors and staff can discuss the options to find the best fit for you and your pet. 


Heartworms mean business and investing in protecting your pet through proper screening and preventatives, is another way of providing the best and most loving care for your pet.  And you know what they say, an ounce of prevention is worth way more than a pound of cure to you and your fur-ever friend. For more information give our experienced team at Clintonville Animal Hospital in Columbus, OH today (614) 263-6730.