A Look Inside Of Our Pets
A Look Inside Of Our Pets
“Ms. Smith, this is your doctor’s office calling with your lab results. Good news, everything is normal.”
These are the type of messages we like to hear. When we go to our doctor’s for our yearly physical, we usually have blood work associated with that visit. We may be following a known problem, monitoring a medication or just routine screening. This is called the “Standard of Care” in medicine. This is something we come to expect. It is no different in veterinary medicine.
Our standard of care screening begins when our pets are young. We as pet parents usually do not realize it is being done because we include it as part of of the spay/neuter protocol. We do a pre-surgical blood screen before we even work up the patient’s anesthetic protocol. We do very basic blood work that allows us to evaluate organ and bone marrow function. The CBC, or complete blood count, lets us know if there is an active infection or inflammatory process going on. It also lets us know if the patient is anemic the day of the surgery. The pre-op chemistry looks at several liver and kidney tests as well as a blood glucose(sugar). We do this because the drugs used to sedate the patients are metabolized in the liver and excreted through the kidneys. If there is an elevation in these values, the veterinarian will take measures to either change the anesthetic protocol or if severe, postpone the surgery and address the problem.
As we see the patients on a year-to-year basis for their annual exam, we recommend this basic screen as well. Why?
- Things change. We all have seen the aging charts that equate the fact that our pet age at a much faster rate than we do.
- Our patients can’t talk and tell us how they are feeling.
When the veterinarian does a physical, they are looking at a brief snapshot in time. Yes, they can tell a lot from looking in the eyes and ears, listening to the hear and lungs and palpating the abdomen, but that only tells us part of the story. We need to know what is going on inside. We are so used to doing blood work when there is a problem, but what if we can forecast a problem or follow a trend in blood work to help us prevent rather than treat a disease? This is the perfect time to continue this Standard of Care and screen blood work on a yearly basis.
For example, by the time kidney values are elevated(abnormal), 75% of the kidney function is lost. This leaves us to treat the disease when, if we followed trends throughout the life of the patient, we could help the veterinarian take measures to control the disease in the early stages.
And yes, kidney and liver disease can happen in young animals. Many times we find concerns on the prop screening at the time of the spay or neuter. If we ignore the next 10 years because your pet looks good, we would be doing you and our patient a disservice.
Our senior pets face the same concerns we as human seniors face. That is why our Senior screenings go deeper in looking at internal organ function. We go further and evaluate more liver and kidney tests as well as screen their thyroid, electrolytes and a complete urinalysis. Again, if we can control a disease early on instead of managing a severe form of the disease, we give our patients a chance at a better quality of life.
Doing a physical exam only gives us part of the information about your pet. A thorough history about how your pet has done over the past year as well as annual blood screening can go far in helping us keep our non-talking family members healthy.
Contributed by Margaret Stafford, RVT