You know your pet better than anyone, and you may be attuned to changes in your pet’s appearance and behavior that indicate potential problems, but discerning whether your furry friend is sick still can be difficult. Most pets don’t display obvious illness signs until their health issues have progressed and their prognosis may be poor. Regular wellness screenings play an indispensable role in your pet’s comprehensive care and are critical for identifying potential health issues before they become significant problems. Wellness screenings are often taken for granted, especially when the results are “normal,” although normal and abnormal results are equally valuable. Our team at Red Oak Animal Hospital explains why.
Common wellness screening tests for pets
During your pet’s annual wellness visit, your veterinarian will conduct a series of screening tests based on age, lifestyle, and health status. These tests typically include:
- Physical examination — This is the most basic component of any wellness visit. The veterinarian will examine your pet’s body from nose to tail, checking their eyes, ears, teeth, and gums, listening to their heart and lungs, and assessing their coat, skin, and body condition.
- Parasite screening — Pets are exposed to many different parasites that can cause serious health issues, including gastrointestinal (GI) illness, heartworm disease, tick-borne illnesses, and parasitic infections. Treating these infections and diseases early is important for preventing long-term damage.
- Blood test — A complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry panel, which are often part of an annual screening, can detect many health issues, including anemia, infection, clotting problems, immune system disorders, liver disease, kidney disease, and diabetes.
- Urinalysis — A urine test helps to identify problems such as urinary tract infections, diabetes, dehydration, kidney problems, and bladder stones.
- Thyroid panel — Your veterinarian may recommend a thyroid panel for your senior pet, since thyroid conditions are common in older pets.
Value of your pet’s normal wellness screening results
A normal wellness screening result is a powerful tool for ensuring your pet’s long-term wellbeing and provides your pet’s unique health blueprint. The benefits of your pet’s normal screening results include:
- Established baseline values — Normal results help establish your pet’s unique health baseline. These data provide a personalized range for your pet, since what is normal can vary from pet to pet. Your pet’s baseline figures become a point of reference that your veterinarian can use to track their health changes over time and to identify slight deviations from your pet’s baseline.
- Early disease detection — Pets often show no visible signs during the initial illness stages, and routine blood work, urinalysis, and other screening tests can uncover potential issues before they take a toll on your pet’s health. Early detection provides the best opportunity for successful treatment or management of many conditions.
- Effective preventive care — Normal results provide feedback that your pet’s health maintenance routines, such as diet and exercise, are working effectively. This positive reinforcement encourages continued attention to current practices, and fosters an environment for optimal health. If any results are abnormal, the practices can be modified appropriately.
- Lifestyle changes to support aging — Like humans, pets’ needs change as they age. Regular wellness screenings track these changes and ensure senior pets enjoy a good quality of life for as long as possible.
- Peace of mind — Regular wellness screenings with normal results provide you with peace of mind and alleviate any anxiety, knowing your pet is in good health and receiving best care practices.
How often pets need wellness screenings
Your pet’s wellness screening should be performed annually, although some pets may need more frequent exams, based on their age, breed, health history, and lifestyle. During your pet’s first six months, they will require monthly wellness checks to ensure they are developing properly, and to receive appropriate vaccinations and parasite preventives. After 12 months, most pets can receive wellness screenings once a year until 7 years of age, when most pets are considered seniors, and should receive twice yearly wellness screenings to prolong their health and vitality.
Preventive care is essential for your pet’s wellbeing, and a normal result is not only good news, but also a key part of their health narrative. Contact our Red Oak Animal Hospital Team to schedule your pet’s next wellness screening.