What is wellness testing?

Wellness testing is a program of annual, although sometimes biannually, physical examinations and blood screening panels as well as infectious disease testing for your pet beginning as early as 1 year of age.  

Why should you do wellness testing?

Changes in your pet’s health status can occur at any time and some symptoms may not be as obvious as others.  Wellness testing is designed to help detect early or hidden diseases in your pet that may otherwise appear healthy.  In fact, most pets will innately hide signs of illness until the disease or condition becomes more severe as a part of their survival instinct.  However, if a disease or condition can be identified before your pet begins to show symptoms, steps can often be taken to help manage or correct the problem before permanent damage occurs.

Why are blood panels performed as part of wellness testing?

Blood panels play a key role in monitoring your pet’s wellness and overall health by helping to improve the likelihood of identifying disease early, often before any symptoms are present. 

One study looking at cats under 8 years of age and dogs under 6 years of age found that 1 in 7 pets had blood abnormalities that required medical attention, unbeknownst to their owner. In addition, normal results on a blood test may not actually indicate a healthy pet, especially if the results identify a change from previous baseline levels.  Identifying these abnormalities or subtle changes before symptoms develop can help add years to your pet’s life.

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When is wellness testing performed?

Wellness testing should be performed at least annually, but sometimes biannually, as your pet ages.  Many pet owners will combine wellness blood panels with their pet’s annual visit to the veterinarian when other laboratory tests such as heartworm/tick screenings or fecal examinations and vaccines are performed.  Monitoring your pet’s health on regular basis makes it easier for your veterinarian to detect minor changes that may signal the onset of early disease.

What is involved with wellness testing?

Wellness blood panels are designed specifically for certain age groups to help provide valuable baseline information and identify minor changes that may indicate early disease even when your pet may appear normal.  

Tests performed in younger dogs and cats typically include a complete blood count (CBC), a blood chemistry profile, and a fecal screening.  In dogs, a heartworm test and tick disease screening are also included.  In cats, because some cats with heart disease do not have a detectable heart murmur on physical exam, a screening test for heart disease is included.  

  • A complete blood count gives information about red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues in the body, white blood cells, which fight infection and respond to inflammation, and platelets, which help the blood to clot.
  • A blood chemistry profile provides information about various organs and tissues of the body including the liver, kidneys as well as other essential functions of the body, such as blood sugar and hydration.

In older dogs and cats, the wellness panels typically include a more extensive blood chemistry panel, as well as thyroid testing.  As your pet ages, it is fairly common to identify abnormalities in the bloodwork that require medical intervention.  In fact, 20-40% of dogs older than 7 years of age and cats older than 9 years of age will have one or more abnormalities discovered on wellness blood panels.

Wellness testing is a simple and effective way to monitor your pet’s health.  Early detection and correction of medical problems will help to ensure that your pet will have a long, healthy, and active life. Call us today to learn more about how to get started!