It Runs In The Blood
Bloodwork is important to see what is going on inside your pet's body
I am often asked by clients, "what's the big deal about bloodwork, why is it that vets recommend it so often, and why can't we tell them what is wrong with their pet based solely on their description over the phone?" Well unfortunately, veterinarians do not have a crystal ball and when your pet is sick, testing their blood is one of the best ways that we can determine what is going on inside, and how his or her organs are functioning.
The most common blood tests that are done in veterinary medicine are an internal organ function screen, which as the name implies, checks the organs, and a complete blood count (CBC), which determines if your pet is anemic, if there is an infection, problem with blood clotting and even if there are parasites present. There is also an electrolyte panel, which if abnormal, can indicate different diseases and explain why your pet is just not acting right.
Most animal hospitals require blood testing prior to surgical procedures or any procedure involving anesthesia to ensure that the organs especially the liver and kidneys, which help the body to break down the anesthetic drugs, are working properly. It also can help your vet determine if your pet is a good candidate for the surgery. If one of these important organs is not functioning to their full capacity, or if the white blood cells are increased, which may be a sign of infection, or if the platelets which are involved in blood clotting are low, unless it is an emergency situation, the surgery may need to be postponed, to prevent complications or even death.
Older pets are at risk of developing chronic diseases like diabetes, liver or kidney disease and having blood work performed on their yearly exam can help us detect the disease while it is still in its early stages and also monitor the progression. There have even been times when a younger pet who was acting perfectly normal, had lab tests done and it was found that he or she had a serious disease but had not yet begun to show symptoms. For this reason, most vets recommend yearly blood tests for all pets, regardless of their age.
Pets who are on medication for conditions such arthritis, thyroid disease, seizures and diabetes are also required to have bloodwork done periodically. This is usually performed prior to starting medicines to check for pre-existing health issues, also to monitor the effectiveness of the medicine, and prior to refills to determine if the drug is causing harm to your pet's body.
So you see, as smart as veterinarians are, we still need to help when trying to figure out what is going on internally in your pet. Bloodwork and physical exams are essential to help us diagnose, prevent and treat health issues that your pet may develop and monitor those that he or she already has. This way, we can help keep them happy and healthy, and you can get the love, licks and kisses that you enjoy, for many years to come.