Routine Blood Work – A Recommendation that Can Save a Life

When Jackson bounded through the door, making an entrance to the clinic that would put Cosmo Kramer to shame on any Seinfeld episode; you would hardly think the young Retriever would be a candidate for a panel of diagnostic blood work. If Jackson was sick, then I’m a model for Speedo Swimwear. The Golden-Doodle was only two years-old; a dirt devil of energy intent on milking the love out of anyone within leash length.

Golden Puppy on counter in pharm

Blood work, on this guy? Absurd, right?

Understand that blood work isn’t just for the sick patient in animal medicine. It can become a valuable part of your pet’s history, possibly a critical piece of information to help unlock the answer to the puzzle of a future health issue.

When your Veterinarian suggests a blood chemistry and complete blood count on a young, healthy and vibrant pet, this is not a recommendation we make lightly. We know the commitment you have made to an office visit, vaccines, fecal check, deworming and heartworm/flea control. Our intention is to create a baseline for your pet, with this blood panel.

What could we learn?

Firstly, in these healthy guys, we learn what is normal for your cat or dog. The information we glean is compared to the reference values created by tens of thousands of samples. Therefore we are comparing the numbers from your pet’s blood work (his or her normal) to the values determined as “the normal” for the species in general. This becomes helpful later.

An example; Say you present your dog for lost appetite and vomiting. When I recommend the blood work on the sick dog, you get it. When I look over the results I notice the values of a couple of liver enzymes are on the high end of normal. Serious liver issue? Or still just a dog that likes to graze the litter box the neighbor cat has established in the bedding under you River Birch tree? All I need to do is look back because you followed a recommendation we made to do blood work when the dog was healthy, and see your dog’s liver numbers have always been in the “high normal range.” Sigh of relief.

Secondly, and most importantly, the Veterinarian might find a metabolic problem early. Consider, the information presents us with kidney values, parameters for liver health, electrolyte numbers and red/white blood cell counts (among many other numbers) and if any numbers are outside those normal…we are on it. This aspect becomes more valuable as your pet ages, since disease frequency increases with age, and why your veterinarian may recommend the blood work every other year or even annually.

An example of this would be in kidney failure. Imagine spotting a trend that when your dog /cat is three or four years-old that allows you to change your pet’s diet and manage the disease early rather than finding out at 8 years-old that the kidneys have failed and all that’s left now is hospitalization and heartbreak.

Establishing what is normal or discovering a treatable abnormality early are both real benefits from routine blood work.

In Jackson’s case, convincing “mom and dad” of the value of the diagnostic is not an issue. Jackson sitting still for his blood draw… serious issue.

Thank you to Jackson’s family for sharing his picture with us!

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