by Petfolk Care Team
In the veterinary world, we have to run blood, urine, and fecal tests to understand your pet’s health. These routine tests are essential for preventative care.
Your pet greets you at the door, eats well, and seems happy and healthy at home. So, why would your veterinary team need to run tests on your pet’s blood, urine, or poop? One of the most obvious reasons is that your pet can’t always tell you when things are changing. In the veterinary world, we have to be detectives to understand your pet’s health, and routine lab testing is essential to keeping them well.
Your pet’s poop might seem gross, but your veterinarian doesn’t mind. With a small amount, we can perform testing to see if there are any parasites that might cause illness. Intestinal parasites are extremely common in puppies and kittens as their immune system is just forming. According to CAPC (Companion Animal Parasite Council) data, more than 30% of dogs under six months of age shed roundworm eggs. Other common parasites can even be transmitted to people and can be especially dangerous for children. Worms occur in adult dogs too, with whipworms found in 14.3% of rescue and shelter dogs. Be sure to get your pet’s stool sample checked annually or when you see any changes in their bathroom habits.
A urine sample will help your veterinarian understand your pet’s hydration and kidney function and can give clues to other underlying diseases, such as diabetes. We may obtain a sample with a small cup, but your veterinary team will often use a needle to get a sterile sample directly from the bladder. This is usually a quick, well-tolerated procedure and will give the most accurate results. Urine is often included in routine screening panels to provide a complete overview of your pet’s health.
A few drops of blood can tell a lot about your pet’s health. Common infectious diseases and parasites are often detected with in-clinic testing. Heartworms, tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and feline infectious diseases such as feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are just a few potentially deadly diseases your veterinarian looks for each year.
But how do we know if your pet’s liver, kidneys, and other organs are having problems? With a little more blood, we can get valuable information on how these organs are functioning. The first step is knowing what is normal for your pet - this is why we check blood work when your pet seems healthy. By establishing a baseline, we can better establish when diseases or infections start.
As your pet ages, annual blood work will identify underlying issues more quickly. And early intervention often gives your pet the best chance at recovery or successful management, potentially extending their life. Research from animal health companies such as Idexx shows that up to 25% of preventative care blood and fecal samples indicated the need for additional care or testing in adult and senior dogs. Your veterinarian will decide which panel makes the most sense for your pet. We know as pets age, more diseases can occur. We test for changes in hormone levels, red blood cells, and white blood cells. With these, we identify any early signs of disease like thyroid disease, anemia, kidney disease, and other conditions. Your veterinary team can then provide the next steps to maintain and improve your pet’s health well into old age.
Wellness care in pets is not limited to annual vaccines. With a few samples and screening tests, we can ensure signs of disease and infection are detected early, allowing intervention to get them back on the road to good health. Be sure to ask which fecal, urine, or blood tests make the most sense for your pet!