Why Does My Pet Need Senior Wellness Bloodwork?

The Importance of Senior Wellness Bloodwork

 One of the most frequent questions I receive from pet owners is “Doc, why does my dog need bloodwork?  We just did that last year and everything was normal.”  Senior Wellness Bloodwork semi-annually in our pets is an important part of their physical exam.  Animals age much more rapidly than humans, and dramatic changes to bloodwork values can happen in a short period of time.

Senior Wellness Bloodwork allows us to screen for numerous diseases and begin treating them before our pets become ill or debilitated.

Often times our owners do not recognize that the signs their pet is having could be indicative of disease.  Changes in thirst, urination, appetite, activity, coat quality, weight, or mobility could all be early indicators of potentially serious diseases that often go undiagnosed until pets are ill.  An up to date blood panel can also aid your veterinarian in selecting which medications are safest for your pet to use.

What is included in Senior Wellness bloodwork?

  1. A CBC (complete blood count)
    • The CBC evaluates red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red cell, white cell, and platelet counts can change very rapidly over a period of hours.  Often veterinarians will evaluate the CBC daily in critically ill patients.
      • Red blood cells carry hemoglobin and are responsible for delivery of oxygen to the tissues of the body.
      • White blood cells are an important component of the immune system and are the first line of defenseagainst infections.
      • Platelets are important for allowing the blood to clot normally in response to injuries.
  2. A blood chemistry
    • Provides information on numerous organ systems in the body such as the liver, GI tract, kidneys, and immune system.
      • The liver has several enzymes which can indicate dysfunction such as the Alanine transaminase (ALT), Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP).  These values can also be affected by toxins and certain medications your pets may take.  Many pets on arthritis medications or seizure medications will have mild liver enzyme elevations that are important to monitor over time.
      • The kidney is assessed by Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) and Creatinine (Crea).  Elevations in these enzymes can indicate dehydration, urinary disease, or kidney dysfunction.  Kidney disease is the number one systemic disease in elderly cats with almost all geriatric cats developing some degree of kidney disease in their lifetime.
  3. Senior Boston TerrierScreening the urine
    • It is important to assess urine concentration.  Low urine concentration can be the very first sign of kidney dysfunction.  The urine can also help indicate diseases such as diabetes and Cushing’s disease which are common in the aging pet population.
  4. T4
    • Assessing the T4, allows your veterinarian to evaluate the thyroid.
      • Elderly cats frequently will have elevated thyroid levels which can predispose to heart disease and blood clots.  Thyroid disease can also mask the signs of kidney disease in older cats.
      • Elderly dogs are prone to low thyroid levels which can predispose to hair loss, skin/ear infections, and weight gain.

 

Semi-annual bloodwork can help your veterinarian to help your pet before illness becomes severe.   Finding diseases before your pet becomes ill allows them the best chance at enjoying a long, healthy life.

 

Visit our Services page for more information about Senior Wellness visits here at Animal Medical Hospital.

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