Dec 03 2012

Wellness Bloodwork in Fifteen Minutes (Part III)

I don’t want to sound all “salesmany” in this post.  My belief is that we as veterinarians are a lot like pediatricians.   Just like pediatricians, our patients can’t tell us what is wrong.  We have to use all the clues they give us to make sure our patients are healthy.  Two exceptions to the comparison of kids to animals:

1  Animals age much faster than kids

2  Animals never start talking

So when the dog or cat is seven, they are like a 60 year old who cannot talk.  They can’t always tell us what they have been feeling, especially if it is a mild pain or a sublte change that they can’t convey when we examine them.  Not only that, but most adults I know don’t go outside and rummage around in the trash or kill mice like some dogs or cats love to do.

With all of those factors, it is clear that as these animals age, there may be small changes that neither you nor I notice.  Wellness labwork performed on a regular basis allows us to make sure that we are not missing hiden signals that are early markers of a more systemic disease.  The values that I discussed in the first post reveal the overall internal health of our beloved pet.

A great example of the need to run labwork is “Tigger” a six-year-old neutered orange tabby.  Tigger hasn’t been eating more or drinking more than usual, and has been an otherwise healthy cat.  On labwork the Blood Urea Nitrogen and Creatanine were significantly elevated.  Abdominal ultrasound revealed one very tiny kidney (think raisin) and one normal sized kidney with a lot of fluid around it.  The tiny kidney was not functioning at all, and the fluid around the other kidney was called a perirenal pseudocyst (which means: fluid around the kidney).  We took Tigger to surgery and made a small window in the cyst so it could drain and make the kidney function better.  Within one month, the kidney values were normal again.

So, I say:

  1. Watch your dogs and cats vigilantly – they can give clues that something is going on:  drinking or eating changes, sleeping less or more, or acting different in any way. 
  2. Take them into your veterinarian for regular exams.
  3. Run wellness bloodwork regularly to screen for problems that #1 and #2 may have missed.  The saying, an “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” holds true here.

So my quick review of blood chemistries ends.  I really can’t emphasize the number of times that wellness bloodwork has or could have changed the life of a pet.  I hope it has been helpful or at the very least a little interesting.  Let me know if you have other topics you would like to read about, or just what you think!

-Doc Cleland


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