Why Routine Blood Work Is Important

In a busy veterinary practice, running blood work on dogs and cats is commonplace.  It is a vital tool that allows veterinarians to properly diagnose and treat our patients.  Most clients expect that their veterinarian will do this when their pet is sick.  But what about that seemingly healthy dog or cat?  Is there any benefit to running their blood work?  The answer is a resounding YES!!  Below are just 3 reasons why routine blood work is important:

1.    Trending: When we run a blood sample, we get a snap shot of that pet’s health on that day.  Having this base line is invaluable for interpreting future blood work in the same patient.  Reference intervals are determined by taking an average of many 100% healthy animals.  Therefore, some patients, even when they are completely healthy, will fall above or below these reference marks.  Knowing this in advance allows us to determine what their blood work means when they truly are sick.  Furthermore, following a patients’ blood work over the years may start to point to a trend developing.  If we can see that certain values are consistently changing, it may help direct some preventive action.

2.    Early Detection: In vet school my professors taught me a saying that “more is missed for not looking than for not knowing”.  The fact is that there are certain diseases where the animal is acting 100% normal in the early stages.  The owners at home do not notice any changes.  The veterinarian during their exam does not notice any abnormalities.  The pet seems healthy.  It is only once we analyze their blood work that we get tipped off to the early stages of disease.  Kidney disease is a perfect example of this.  In cats it takes as much as 70% of the kidney function to be destroyed before you will notice signs of disease.  Blood and urine tests can pick this up beforehand, allowing for early treatment to improve the quality and duration of your pets’ life.

3.    Decrease Risk: In our practice we routinely check the blood work of patients scheduled for surgery.  It only makes sense to have a complete view of the patient’s health status beforehand.  It allows us to tailor their anesthetic plan and adjust our surgery plan as needed.  Sometimes this screening blood work uncovers a problem we had no idea about.  It allows us to address and correct these issues before placing the patient under anesthetic and at risk.

And one final note on lab results: it ALWAYS gives us valuable information!!  Sometimes when I present clients with normal lab results, they feel as though these results aren’t valuable and haven’t told us anything.  In reality, it gives your veterinarian tons of information!!  Feel free to discuss routine blood work with the team at Cumberland Vet Clinic.