Blood work can provide incredibly useful information for your pet that is not always possible for their veterinarian to detect from a physical examination. This is especially important for adult and senior pets, who are more likely to develop long-term (chronic) diseases such as cancer.
Chronic diseases typically develop slowly over a long period of time, and animals who have chronic disease often show minimal (if any) clinical signs that would alert the owner of possible illness. For example, an adult cat with early kidney disease may start to drink more water and urinate more frequently, but otherwise behave normally. These changes are often subtle and easily missed.
According to the American Animal Hospital Association, a recent data analysis revealed that 15% of adult, 21% of senior, and 42% of geriatric dogs and cats showed significant blood work abnormalities that required veterinary care, which underscores the importance of screening.1 Animals who have early detection, treatment and follow-up for their illnesses often have the best outcomes. Even if your pet has no blood work abnormalities, screening is still important to establish their baseline blood levels, which can be analyzed for subtle changes over time and alert the veterinarian of a developing illness. Baseline blood work screening involves a complete blood count (CBC), chemistry panel, and a urinalysis. These tests evaluate blood cells, electrolytes, and organ enzymes, and kidney function. It is generally recommended to have these tests performed every 6 months to every year, especially for older animals (generally older than 6 years of age for dogs, and 8 years for cats). If your pet is diagnosed with an underlying condition, your veterinarian will further advise you as to how frequently they need to be tested.
–Dr. Tara Piech, Assistant Professor of Clinical Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine