Why is labwork important for healthy animals? There are 4 main reasons:
1. To make sure nothing is wrong with a patient that we’re not aware of.
- Unrecognized toxin exposure – Pets that have been exposed to or ingested a toxin (unknown to their pet parents) may have high liver or kidney values or may be anemic.
- Undiagnosed chronic disease – Pets with chronic diseases or cancer are often anemic.
- Parasite infection – Pets with parasites may appear healthy, but test positive.
- Anesthesia safety – Pets that are going to have anesthesia need to be checked to make sure blood counts, proteins, liver, kidneys, and electrolytes are sufficient to handle anesthesia safely.
2. To check for known problems that affect the type of patient we’re seeing.
- Schnauzers often have hyperlipidemia and pancreatic abnormalities.
- Standard poodles and bearded collies are prone to Addison’s disease.
- Dachshunds, poodles, beagles, and terriers are prone to Cushing’s disease.
- Samoyeds and Cairn Terriers are prone to diabetes.
- Dalmatians and English Bulldogs often get urate bladder crystals/stones.
- Small breed dogs and certain breeds of cats often get oxylate bladder crystals/stones.
- Golden Retrievers and Dobermans are predisposed to hypothyroidism.
3. To monitor our patient population for local infectious diseases.
- According to Antech Diagnostic Laboratory’s statistics, Portland is the #2 metropolitan area in the USA for the incidence of Giardia.
- Heartworm disease is slowly moving north along the I-5 corridor.
- Canine and feline roundworms are common locally and have human health implications, including causing liver and eye infections in people (especially children) and have been recently linked with lower standardized test scores in people.
4. To establish normal values for an individual patient.
- When pets get sick, knowing what is normal for that individual helps determine if a problem is acute or chronic – this affects both prognosis and the therapy your veterinarian will recommend.
- Knowing your pet’s baseline values guides diet therapy and assessment of anesthetic risk.
- Known normal values can help diagnose hyperthyroidism in cats before they get sick and help prevent secondary heart and kidney damage.