Preventative Care Testing for Your Pet

March 29, 2016

by Dr. Hope Jankunas

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Why is it important?

Our pets can’t tell us when they are sick and they age faster than people do.  It’s in their nature to hide signs of illness and it is often too late to treat the disease by the time they show symptoms.  Preventative care testing is important because it allows us to screen for early signs of disease when the problem is still treatable, which allows our pets to live longer, healthier lives.

What tests will be run?

Testing will be recommended based on your pet’s breed, age and medical history, and will include some or all of the following:

  • CBC (Complete Blood Count)- Assesses Red Blood Cells, White Blood Cells and Platelets. This test can identify anemia, infection, inflammation, problems with blood clotting ability, and some cancers.
  • Chemistry Panel– Assesses kidney function, liver function, pancreatic function, blood sugar, hydration, electrolytes and more. Pets on chronic medications should have this test performed regularly to look for early signs of adverse side effects.
  • Urinalysis– Assesses kidney function and can identify infection or inflammation in the urinary tract. Pets with a history of urinary crystals or stones should have their urine monitored regularly.
  • Thyroid Panel(T4, Free T4, TSH)– Assesses thyroid function. This test is especially important in mature adult and senior pets because they are at risk for disease (hyperthyroidism in cats and hypothyroidism in dogs).
  • Fecal test– Identifies the presence of intestinal parasites, some of which can be passed from pets to people (yuck!). Most pets with infections show NO signs of disease, so it is important to check regularly even if your pet has “normal” stool.  Indoor only pets are also at risk because some parasites can be spread by insects or through contaminated potting soil from houseplants.
  • Infectious Disease– Cats and dogs should be screened annually for the following diseases depending on risk:
    • Heartworm– This parasite lives in the heart and major blood vessels. It can cause severe life-threatening heart and lung disease in dogs AND cats.  Treatment is risky and expensive; however, the disease is entirely preventable!
    • Tick-borne Disease- Ticks in the Hudson Valley carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis. Regular screening tests are important because some infected dogs will not show outward signs of disease.  Year round tick prevention will decrease exposure to both diseases and Lyme disease can be prevented with vaccination.

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FIV/Feline Leukemia- Cats can be exposed to these viral diseases through contact with other cats.  They cause impaired immune function and increased risk of cancer.  Most cats are asymptomatic in the early stages, therefore, early detection is important to managing the disease.  Feline Leukemia can be prevented with vaccination.

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