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Wellness Blood Screenings: A Conversation Between You, Your Pet, and Your Vet

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