Blood work provides the information that cannot be determined through physical examination alone. Blood work allows us to determine overall health of the body’s organs and bone marrow, and to access many disease processes. It is recommended to have blood work done on a yearly basis for several reasons. It allows us to know the normal values of each body system for your individual pet. Since every patient may have a different normal, it is very important that we have baseline blood work on your healthy pet so that if your pet gets sick we have something to compare the blood work results to. Also, doing routine blood work allows us to catch diseases early, before they are causing clinical signs, so that we are more successfully able to manage and treat the disease. It is especially important to run yearly blood work on patients over 7 years of age, since they are more likely to have disease processes occurring that we want to catch as early as possible. For example, we may find that your cat is at risk of developing diabetes and can make a simple food change to slow or halt the progression of the disease. If we had waited until the cat was showing clinical signs, then we would most likely have to place the cat on medication (such as insulin) and we would be fighting an uphill battle. You know what they say, “prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
Blood work before surgery or sedation is also recommended because it allows us to see how the organs are functioning that day so we can taper an anesthetic protocol specific to your pet. Pre-anesthetic blood work is just another way to make surgery safer and to give you piece of mind that the body will be able to tolerate the anesthesia and procedure. Blood work for patients on certain medications is required in order for us to ensure that the dose of medication your pet is on is at the therapeutic level. This means that the medication is working at the best of its ability and it is not hurting the patient. This also allows us to change the dose if needed, to try to get your pet on the lowest safe dose; meaning less medication in your pet’s system and less money out of your wallet. The medications that need therapeutic levels checked every 6 months include seizure medication (such as Phenobarbital) and hyper- and hypothyroid medication (such as Methimazole and Thyroxine).
Blood work is also needed for patients that are on chronic medications or medications that they take the majority of the time. The most common medication that falls into this category is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. These include products such as Rimadyl and Metacam and are used to treat many diseases, but most commonly are used to treat arthritis. Specific tests are also available in-house. These include parvovirus testing for dogs, FIV/ FELK testing for cats, glucose testing for cats and dogs, and heartworm testing for cats and dogs. If there are blood tests that we do not provide in-house, we can always use an outside laboratory and have the results available in 24 to 48 hours.