Happy New Year! We hope you and your pets enjoyed the holiday season. 2018 brought many changes as we continue our modernization of the practice- electronic medical records, our new therapy laser, and our online client communication portal.
As part of our vision for 2019, we aim to improve pet health education. Our goal for January is to raise awareness of the benefits of senior bloodwork screens. This bloodwork allows for earlier detection of common senior diseases. Early detection leads to early intervention and ultimately delays the development of these diseases. We invite you to help your pet start 2019 right with $40 off senior bloodwork screens during the month of January. Read on to learn about the benefits of senior bloodwork screening.
Why Senior Bloodwork Screens?
It’s hard to appreciate changes in ourselves that develop gradually over time. Likewise, subtle changes in our pet’s appetite, playfulness, and energy level can be hard to appreciate. Combine that subtlety with an animal’s inherent tendency to hide an injury, and suddenly it can be extremely hard to realize your pet is dealing with an illness. Animals age faster than we humans do, so diseases like arthritis, heart disease, and kidney disease can seem to come on out of nowhere.
Despite these challenges, we have the ability to do blood work that gives a peek into the internal health of an animal. Blood work is typically a combination of tests looking at blood cells (red blood cell, white blood cell, and platelet counts) and internal organ function (kidney, liver, pancreas, blood glucose, electrolytes, and thyroid). By performing senior blood work, we can check for early signs of disease in the bone marrow or organs. Senior blood work allows us to know whether a patient can and is tolerating medications, such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications), and allows us to monitor the progression of disease.
Historically, veterinarians were only able to detect kidney disease once a patient had lost 66% of their normal kidney function. There is a newer test, called the SDMA, which allows a veterinarian to detect changes in kidney function as early as 40% loss. Other common findings with kidney diseases are changes in the blood urea nitrogren (BUN), creatinine, phosphorus, potassium, red blood cell, and blood protein levels (albumen).
The liver is the only organ in the body with regenerative capabilities. The liver is also an amazing organ that processes most toxins, makes clotting factors and important blood proteins, and stores sugar, vitamins, and minerals. The liver can show markers for inflammation and infection elsewhere in the body, as well as problems with different important glands (endocrine organs), and even cancer.
With age, dogs tend to have underactive thyroid whereas cats tend to have an overactive thyroid. Signs of thyroid disease in dogs includes lethargy, weight gain, as well as hair loss and dry flakey skin. Signs of thyroid disease in cats include irritability, weight loss despite a good appetite, poor haircoat, vomiting, diarrhea, as well as increased thirst and urination. An overactive thyroid can lead to the development of serious heart disease in cats, which can cause blood clots, severe heart rhythm abnormalities, high blood pressure, and even congestive heart failure. When hyperthyroidism is left untreated in cats, the kidneys can become seriously and irreversibly damaged. Screening of the thyroid levels allows earlier detection of problems and prevention of the side effects on the other internal organs.
The pancreas has two very important functions: 1) to release insulin for blood sugar regulation, and 2) to release digestive enzymes. Inflammation of the pancreas can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, and energy. Chronic pancreatic inflammation is linked to inflammatory bowel disease in cats and the development of diabetes mellitus in dogs. Senior blood panels include an assessment of blood sugar, urine sugar, electrolytes and markers for inflammation in the body that can be associated with pancreatic disease.