Annual Wellness Screening Tests for Pets: Are They Worthwhile?

Pet owners often forget that a pet who appears healthy on the outside could be developing internal health problems. The best way to gain a complete pet health picture is with annual wellness screening tests, which most often include basic blood and urine profiles, as well as parasite screenings. 

The Animal Hospital of Parkland staff know that pet owners may hesitate to spend money on screening tests when their pet appears normal. So, we provide an overview of our wellness screening protocols, why we recommend these tests for healthy pets, and the value of a normal result. 

Pet wellness screening test options

Each year when your pet visits for their annual physical examination and preventive care services, we may recommend additional testing based on their age, species, breed, health history, and current health status. These tests provide a window into your pet’s internal organ and blood cell function, which we cannot determine from a physical examination alone. Tests we may recommend for your pet include:

  • Fecal examination — We recommend this test for all pets to check for common intestinal parasites.
  • Heartworm test — We recommend this test, which uses a small blood sample to look for evidence of heartworm infection, for all dogs. This test may be combined with a tick-borne disease screening test for at-risk pets.
  • Blood chemistry profile — Usually performed in combination with a complete blood count, this test looks at substances in the liquid blood portion that provide clues about organ function and overall health status.
  • Complete blood count (CBC) — A CBC is usually performed in combination with a blood chemistry profile to look at red and white blood cell numbers and function.
  • Urinalysis — A wellness urinalysis is best performed at the same time as a blood chemistry profile and CBC, and provides information about kidney function and urinary tract health.
  • Blood pressure — High blood pressure (i.e., hypertension) is common in older pets and can occur as a primary disease, or secondary to another health condition. 
  • Heart function testing — If your pet develops a heart murmur or is a breed at high risk for heart disease, we may recommend annual heart screenings with EKG, heart ultrasound, or X-ray as your pet ages.

Pet wellness screening frequency

We recommend that adult pets be screened annually, at the same time as their annual wellness and preventive care visit, along with their physical examination, vaccine boosters, parasite preventives, and any other test required. For senior pets, we may recommend semi-annual testing, because the aging process accelerates when pets reach this life stage and changes can happen quickly. Your pet’s first blood and urine wellness screening test should be performed as a young, healthy adult to establish baseline normal values.

Pet wellness screening benefits

Many pet owners decline wellness screenings, especially for younger pets who seem outwardly healthy. However, these screenings of younger pets that often produce normal results are extremely valuable. Here are a few reasons to consider annual wellness screenings for your pet:

  • Baseline normal values — Starting annual wellness screenings when pets are young and healthy gives us a basis for comparison for future testing, which is especially helpful if your pet’s “normal” values are slightly outside the published reference range.
  • Peace of mind — Without wellness screenings, you won’t actually know what is happening inside your pet’s body. Normal test results give you peace of mind, and confirm that your pet’s diet and lifestyle are working.
  • Trend tracking — Tests that are repeated each year can be compared, which identifies slow trends and changes that would be harder to detect on a single blood panel. If your pet’s values are slowly creeping up or down over time, we can intervene before a full-blown problem develops.
  • Early disease detection — Most chronic disease processes start “silently,” with pets still acting normally. Wellness screening tests help us detect diseases in the early stages, when they are more responsive to treatment. Early disease detection and treatment are also more cost-effective than treating a pet who is already sick with advanced disease.

Routine wellness screening tests may seem to cost more up front, but they can help you save treatment expenses down the line, and provide your pet with a longer, healthier life. Animal Hospital of Parkland also offers pet wellness plans, which bundle your pet’s preventive services into a discounted, low monthly payment. Contact our team to set up your pet’s next preventive care visit and to discuss the best wellness screenings or wellness care plan for your pet.

By |2024-02-14T23:50:40+00:00May 4th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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