Wellness Screening Tests for Early Disease Detection

Pets age faster than people, and while we can’t slow down the aging process, we can do our best to proactively manage their health. Our Madison Street Animal Hospital team recommends annual wellness examinations for adult pets and semi-annual exams for seniors, and we may sometimes recommend some extra routine tests during your visit.

These routine wellness screening tests most often include blood work, urinalysis, parasite screenings, and heart function tests to provide us with a baseline in young pets that we use to track trends and changes and to compare values over time. Wellness screening tests allow us to detect pet diseases before they snowball into a larger, more difficult-to-treat, and more expensive problem. 

You may be skeptical about the value of these screenings tests, especially if your pet appears healthy on the outside. So, we provide some examples of diseases that we commonly detect on routine wellness screenings, and explain how early detection can change your pet’s outcome for the better.

#1: Chronic kidney disease in pets

Chronic kidney disease is a progressive problem that usually begins silently in middle-aged to older pets. When pets with kidney disease begin showing clinical signs, which most often include increased drinking, increased urination, weight loss, and poor appetite, they have already lost two-thirds to three-quarters of their kidney cell function, which cannot be reversed. However, when we see subtle changes on their routine blood work and urinalysis that may indicate early kidney dysfunction, we can treat them with a prescription diet and medications that can preserve remaining cells and significantly slow disease progression, and help ensure a longer life.

#2: Thyroid disease in pets

Thyroid disease is a common condition in aging dogs and cats, who usually show only subtle, non-specific signs. Cats most often experience increased thyroid hormone levels, which can lead to high blood pressure, anxiety, weight loss, and heart damage. Dogs most often develop low thyroid levels, which result in weight gain, low energy, skin and hair problems, and increased susceptibility to cold.

While low thyroid hormone is low risk for most dogs, a climbing thyroid level puts a cat in danger for serious complications. But, we can detect thyroid hormone changes early using a basic wellness blood panel, and multiple treatment options are available.

#3: Heart disease in pets

Some breeds, such as the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, dachshunds, Great Danes, Dobermans, and golden retrievers, are at higher heart disease risk when they are young, so we recommend that these breeds, as well as most older pets, be screened regularly. Chest X-rays and EKGs reveal information about heart size, shape, and rhythm, and we can order a heart ultrasound (i.e., echocardiogram) if the initial tests show any abnormalities. Most heart diseases can be stabilized with medications to slow progression, prevent your pet’s heart from failing, and increase their anesthetic safety.

#4: Diabetes in pets

Routine blood work can detect increased blood sugar levels that most often indicate diabetes. When diabetes goes undetected or untreated for too long, pets can lose significant amounts of weight, develop secondary liver or metabolic problems and, worst-case scenario, can develop diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is life-threatening and your sick pet will need hospitalization for several days, but the condition can be prevented with early detection. Diabetes is manageable with insulin, weight control, diet, and other medications.

#5: Cushing’s syndrome in pets

Elevated liver enzymes, evident on routine blood work, can be an early indication of Cushing’s syndrome, which is a common endocrine issue in older dogs that causes weight gain, liver changes, skin changes, and increased drinking, urination, and hunger. If your pet’s blood work shows elevations, and your pet has other Cushing’s signs, we can run an additional blood test and provide any necessary treatment.

#6: Parasitic diseases in pets

Routine wellness screenings can detect heartworms and intestinal parasites that can seriously damage your pet’s health. We can also screen pets for tick-borne diseases, which can lead to serious complications, such as kidney failure, anemia, clotting problems, and joint inflammation. Most parasitic diseases are preventable or treatable, and detecting them early avoids most complications.

Ask our Madison Street Animal Hospital team how annual wellness screening tests can benefit your pet, and which tests are best considering your pet’s age, species, breed, and specific health risk factors. Contact us to schedule your next wellness visit, or to learn more about the benefits of early disease detection in pets.

By |2023-04-25T03:23:20+00:00April 24th, 2023|News|0 Comments

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