When you bring your pet to Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Wallisville for their annual exam, our team members will recommend blood work along with the standard yearly services.

But wait! My pet isn’t sick, you think to yourself. Why do they need blood work? Read on to learn the many reasons why we consider annual blood work a vital part of your pet’s preventive care.

What’s included in your pet’s blood work

First, let’s define annual blood work. Unlike a yearly heartworm test, which also requires a blood sample, annual blood work analyzes numerous cellular and liquid components of your pet’s blood. Together, these components (i.e., blood work values) provide information about your pet’s internal health, including their organ function, immune system health, hydration, and blood cell production. Depending on your pet’s age and species, the veterinarian may recommend a specific panel (i.e., profile or group of tests). Each panel will include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) — The CBC measures your pet’s red and white blood cells and platelets, and is a key indicator for anemia, dehydration, infection, hidden bleeding, bone marrow function, and some blood cancers.
  • General chemistry profile (chemistry) — The chemistry profile measures your pet’s organ function, and provides values such as electrolytes, enzymes, proteins, hormones, waste products, and blood glucose.

If your pet is a senior (i.e., a dog 7 years or older, or a cat 11 years or older), your veterinarian may recommend blood work and a urinalysis (UA) every six months. This test evaluates your pet’s urine, but may also be used to more comprehensively assess your senior pet’s kidney and urinary function.

There’s never a wrong time for pet blood work

Along with your pet’s annual or bi-annual visit, blood work will be recommended for any significant health change or event, including:

  • Unexplained illness, behavior change, or because your pet is “not acting right”
  • Prior to anesthesia or surgery
  • Prior to starting a new medication
  • Therapeutic monitoring (e.g., medication or treatment)

What your pet’s blood work can reveal about their health

Your pet’s blood work is a treasure trove of information—but accurately interpreting results takes veterinary expertise. A few of the major conditions that annual pet blood work often reveals includes:

  • Renal insufficiency (i.e., kidney failure)
  • Liver disease or injury
  • Pancreatitis
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid disease
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Bone marrow dysfunction

Annual blood work benefits for pets

The Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Wallisville team recognizes that blood work may seem expensive—especially when your pet looks and acts normal. However, annual blood work provides priceless benefits that can literally save or extend your pet’s life. Therefore, we want pet owners to see annual blood work not as another test, but as an investment in their beloved pet’s long-term health. That investment pays off with benefits that include:

  • Early disease detection — Blood work is the most effective way to identify subtle changes in your pet’s health, sometimes months or years before they are visibly sick. A study of more than 250,000 pets who received annual blood work found that one in seven adult dogs and cats had “significant findings” (i.e., a result that required follow up testing and investigation). That number jumped to one in five for senior pets, and two out of five geriatric pets. No matter your pet’s age, early detection allows your veterinarian to take proactive measures now, rather than react later.
  • Better pet outcomes — Early detection and diagnosis increases your pet’s chances for a good outcome. In some cases, early stage diseases and conditions are completely curable, which can extend your pet’s life and eliminate any suffering, pain, or health complications that may have coincided with the illness.
  • Less invasive and more affordable treatment — Generally speaking, early stage disease treatment is less extensive, and therefore safer and less expensive. Rather than pursuing surgery, advanced diagnostics, or treatment for the original condition’s various complications, your veterinarian may be able to manage your pet’s early disease with medication, nutrition, lifestyle modifications, or a minor procedure.
  • Customized pet health management — When we can anticipate a change in your pet’s health, we can make specific care recommendations and advise you on monitoring your pet for subtle illness signs that may signal disease progression. For example, we may advise owners of pets with early stage kidney failure to encourage their pet’s water intake, feed a low sodium diet, and track their pet’s weight, urination, and thirst habits. Such specific guidance bolsters pet health and ensures owners seek prompt care the moment their pet’s condition changes—rather than unknowingly waiting until it’s too late. 

Boring results are the best results—your pet’s blood work baseline

When pet owners learn that their dog or cat’s blood work is normal, they may initially be relieved, but then confused, questioning the benefit of paying for negative (i.e., normal) results. However, these results establish a baseline—your pet’s healthy “normal”—that is then used to identify small changes, trends, and patterns. Every year that your pet’s blood work is normal is an additional plot point for future reference.

Annual blood work is more than a test—it’s an opportunity to dig deeper into your pet’s internal health and provide the best possible care for a long and healthy life. To schedule your pet’s annual exam and blood work, contact Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Wallisville.