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Diagnostics—Why Does My Pet Need a Blood Test?

Diagnostic tools are the cornerstone of early detection, ensuring that our pets live long, healthy lives. Here, we highlight the vital role that blood tests play in the wellbeing of our beloved companions.

The three scenarios we will explore are:

  • wellness blood tests, which serve as proactive tools for maintaining health and catching issues early

  • senior pets and the critical role blood tests play in managing age-related changes

  • and pre-General Anaesthetic (pre-GA) blood tests, which help ensure safe and successful surgeries for our cats and dogs.


Wellness blood tests, often referred to as routine blood work or check-ups, are a set of laboratory tests conducted on your pet's blood to assess their overall health when they appear to be in good condition. These tests are typically a part of regular veterinary examinations and are designed to identify potential health issues before they manifest as clinical symptoms. Wellness blood tests can provide invaluable insights into your pet's internal health, even if they seem perfectly healthy on the outside.

1. Early disease detection

One of the primary reasons wellness blood tests are crucial is their ability to detect underlying health problems at an early, often asymptomatic stage. Many diseases and conditions, such as kidney disease, diabetes and liver dysfunction may not exhibit visible symptoms until they have progressed significantly. Wellness blood tests can identify subtle abnormalities in your pet's blood chemistry, allowing our vets to intervene and initiate treatment before the condition becomes severe. This early detection can lead to more successful treatment outcomes and a higher quality of life for your pet.

2. Baseline health assessment

Another vital role of wellness blood tests is to establish a baseline for your pet's overall health. By conducting these tests when your pet is healthy, our vets can create a personalised health profile specific to your cat or dog. This baseline becomes invaluable for future comparisons, as it helps identify deviations from your pet's typical values. It's like having a health history for your pet, which allows for better-informed decision-making when health issues do arise.

Common Wellness Blood Tests For Pets

There are several standard blood tests typically included in wellness panels for pets. These may include:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): This test evaluates the number and quality of different blood cell types, helping to identify anaemia, infections and certain blood disorders.

  • Blood Chemistry Panel: A comprehensive panel that assesses various parameters such as kidney function, liver function, glucose levels, electrolyte balance and more. It can help identify a wide range of health issues.

  • Thyroid Function Testing: This assesses thyroid hormone levels, which are crucial for metabolism and can indicate thyroid disorders in pets.

  • Heartworm Testing: Essential in regions where heartworm disease is prevalent, this test helps detect the presence of heartworms in the bloodstream.

  • Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) Testing: Vital for cats, these tests check for the presence of these viral infections, which can be asymptomatic but severely impact feline health.

Senior Pets

Just as we all age, our beloved pets do too. Senior pets, typically classified as those around seven years and older, have unique healthcare needs. Their bodies undergo natural changes, and they become more susceptible to age-related diseases. Recognising and addressing these changes is vital to ensuring a high quality of life for your ageing companion.

Identifying age-related diseases

Wellness blood tests for senior pets are particularly essential as they can help identify age-related diseases, such as kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid disorders, and heart disease. Detecting these conditions in their early stages allows for prompt intervention and management, improving the prognosis and maintaining your senior pet's quality of life.

Monitoring chronic conditions

Many senior pets may already be managing chronic health conditions. Regular blood tests are invaluable for monitoring these conditions, ensuring that medications and treatments are effective, and making necessary adjustments as needed. They help our veterinarians to gauge the progression of diseases and make informed decisions to improve the comfort and longevity of your senior pet.

Pre-General Anaesthetic

Pre-General Anaesthetic (pre-GA) blood tests, also known as pre-surgical blood work, are a set of essential diagnostic tests conducted before a pet undergoes any surgical procedure that requires anaesthesia. These tests are designed to assess your pet's overall health and detect any underlying medical conditions that might affect their safety during surgery.

Detecting underlying health issues

Pre-GA blood tests serve as a critical safety checkpoint for your pet. They can reveal hidden health concerns that may not be evident through a physical examination alone. By identifying conditions like anaemia, liver or kidney dysfunction, clotting disorders or infections, our vets can make informed decisions regarding the safety and approach to anaesthesia. Detecting these issues before surgery helps prevent complications and ensures the best possible outcome for your pet.

Determining safe anaesthesia protocols

Anaesthesia carries inherent risks, even for healthy pets. Pre-GA blood tests provide vital information that allows our veterinarians to tailor the anaesthesia protocol to your pet's individual needs. For example, if the blood tests reveal kidney dysfunction, the anaesthetic drugs and dosages can be adjusted accordingly to minimise the strain on the kidneys. This customisation ensures a safer and more comfortable surgical experience for your pet.

In conclusion, the lifesaving potential of timely blood tests for pets cannot be overstated. These diagnostic tools have the power to unveil hidden health concerns, prevent complications, and improve the overall well-being of your pet. By scheduling routine wellness blood tests and considering the specific needs of senior pets, you can be proactive in managing your pet's health and addressing issues before they become serious.

We encourage you to consult with our vets about appropriate blood testing for your pets. Discuss the timing and types of tests that suit your pet's age, breed and unique circumstances. By doing so, you will actively contribute to their health, happiness and longevity.


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