Why are yearly examinations recommended for my pet?
Pets age much more quickly than us humans. The general rule of thumb is that dogs age 7 times faster than us. This means when you bring your dog in when he is 7 years old, he is more like a 49 year old human. By having one of our experienced veterinarians conduct a thorough physical examination, many subtle changes can be detected allowing us to appropriately treat your pet. This early detection will ensure your pet lives as long and happy a life as possible.
What are you doing when you examine my pet?
A veterinarian's hands and eyes are their most valuable tools. At every yearly examination, a thorough physical examination or "nose to tail" examination is conducted. During this, we are assessing the head and body for symmetry, eyes for abnormalities, ears for infection or inflammation, and mouth for discomfort and/or dental disease. Lymph nodes are palpated checking for irregularities, and feeling in the neck can help assess the thyroid gland in certain cases. Examination and feeling of the abdomen may reveal masses, discomfort, or abnormal fluid. Flexing and extending the limbs may detect arthritis or instabilities. The heart and lungs are listened to for detection of murmurs, rhythm disturbances, or breathing abnormalities. Examination of the skin can reveal lumps and bumps, ectoparasites (fleas, lice), or suggest certain allergies or endocrine disturbances.
Although a physical examination is imperative, it is not enough to assess how your pet's internal organs are functioning. Therefore, blood tests are very important in assisting our veterinaries in detecting, diagnosing, and monitoring illnesses in your pets. Blood tests on pets are conducted in a very similar fashion as when you visit your doctor or lab.
At Elk Lake Veterinary Hospital we have a full in house laboratory to run blood work. This means we have accurate and timely results. We are also able to use external laboratories for further specialized testing.
What can you test for?
Blood tests look at how the body's organs are functioning, check the status of the immune system, and monitor the activity of a disease process. Some blood tests can suppress or stimulate an organ and other tests look specifically at genetics. Organs that are most often tested for include the liver, kidney, and pancreas. Red and white blood cells are also measured which can help quantify an animal's hydration status or assess for an anemia, infection, or inflammation.
When should my pet have blood done?
There are many times blood work is recommended; For example, if a pet is having an anesthetic procedure for a surgery or dental work. By doing pre-anesthetic blood work we are ensuring that the pet does not have any pre-existing unknown issues and also that they will be able to metabolize the anesthetic agents. Blood work is also used to monitor a pet who is on medications. As a pet ages, yearly blood work is recommended to screen for underlying diseases that cannot be picked up on physical examination alone.