October 24th, 2019
Senior blood work and why
It seems like it was just yesterday when you brought your little ball of fluff home to become a part of the family. This could have been when they were just 8 weeks old or, if you were lucky to find them when they were older. Regardless of when your pet became a part of your life, you have always strived to make sure they are comfortable, well fed and well loved.
After the age of 7, our pets are now considered seniors. Apart from a physical examination by your veterinarian, senior blood work is another way to gain more information on the health of your pet.
At Chedoke Animal Hospital, our blood work is generally run in-house, allowing for quicker results and assessment. Quicker results mean quicker treatment for your mature pet.
How is blood collected?
Generally, a needle is inserted into the jugular vein (in the neck) to collect a small sample of blood. This is a large vessel which allows for quicker collection and pets seem to prefer this area for collection rather than a leg (especially those who hate their paws being touched).
What is the veterinarian looking for?
Depending on what blood test your veterinarian has ordered, blood tests will give us information on;
Red blood cells: Is your pet anemic (low number of red blood cells)? Producing replacement red blood cells as they should be?
White blood cells: High white blood cells can indicate an infection (e.g. a parasite infection) or a chronic inflammatory process. An elevation in a particular white blood cell type can also help use to narrow down a potential problem or process.
Chemistry: These tests take a look at the health of your pet’s internal organs. this includes kidneys, pancreas and the liver. We also assess blood sugar (checking for diabetes), and can assess their electrolyte values (potassium, sodium) that can point to hormonal problems or deficiencies.
One value that we test at Chedoke Animal Hospital is symmetric Dimethylarginine (SDMA). This marker will be increased when kidney function has decreased by 25%. Prior to this test becoming available, kidney function would need to decrease by 75% before it would show up in regular blood work. We are able to identify pets with borderline or mild kidney disease much sooner as a result.
T4: This test identifies whether your pet is hyperthyroid (an overactive thyroid, often seen in older cats) or hypothyroid (a “sluggish” thyroid, often seen in older dogs). Catching these issues mean we can provide medications or other treatments needed to manage the condition.
Blood results can help veterinarian decide which medications are better suited to your pet’s needs.
Overall, blood work is not meant to be scary. It is meant to be a preventative measure to ensure that your veterinarian team can catch any medical conditions early so you and your pet can enjoy life to their fullest.
Give us a call and let us help you help your pet age gracefully.