Our pets can develop liver disease, kidney disease, diabetes, low or high thyroid levels, and adrenal disease as they get older. Usually, the best time to begin management of these diseases is before we see clinical signs. Unfortunately, many of these diseases have either vague or no clinical signs until the disease is very advanced.
How can we catch a condition early?
Since we want to catch disease before our pets are sick, the only way to know what is going on is to test for them. Blood tests and urine tests can tell us when organs are beginning to have problems.
Most people think that this testing does not need to start until their pet is 8 or 9 years old (or only if their pet is sick). Then, if a test result is too high or too low, the disease must be present. Unfortunately, it is not quite that simple.
When labs establish “normal” ranges, they test 100 healthy animals. The top and bottom 2.5% of values are thrown out and the remaining 95% is considered “normal.” Therefore, a pet could have a value outside the established normal range that is, in fact, completely normal for them.
For this reason, trends often become more important than what the actual numbers are.
How often does my pet need bloodwork?
At Austin Vet Care, we would like to see blood work every year to monitor for those trends. At this time we are talking about healthy animals only, not pets that are sick. However, knowing that your dog normally has a high liver value helps to know that is not the problem when they are sick.
For example, let’s say we test liver enzymes on your pet for the first time at age 8 and the level is a little above the normal. Is that normal for your pet or does it indicate the beginning of liver disease? Without previous values, we have no idea. By doing lab tests every year (or about every 7 “pet years”) we can watch for those trends and maybe do some easy things like diet changes or supplements to either reverse the disease or at least slow it down.
X-Rays and Ultrasound
X-Rays and ultrasound allow us to examine several bones and organs for irregularities. These technologies help our veterinarians in diagnosing a large range of problems. Our practice strives to offer state-of-the-art medicine and radiographs and ultrasound help us to do so.