Why Is Lab Work So Important for Pets?
When you visit the doctor, it’s not uncommon to have a lab test — whether you’re feeling sick or are simply visiting for an annual well-check. Lab work is necessary for comprehensive care even when humans are able to consciously describe how they’re feeling.
Our pets can’t tell us when they feel unwell or different, and for this reason, regular laboratory work is even more essential to monitoring and maintaining a pet’s ongoing health.
How Do Veterinarians Use Lab Tests?
Lab tests, like complete blood cell counts, blood chemistry profiles, urine analysis, stool sample screens and heartworm testing, are incredibly useful for assessing a pet’s overall health and identifying specific markers that indicate disease. We use laboratory tests to establish a baseline of a pet’s health during wellness exams, to diagnose illness, and to safely prescribe medications.
Lab tests help us detect the earliest signs of disease. With routine lab work, we’re often able to diagnose and begin treating a pet’s illness before they even begin to experience symptoms or pain. As a rule of thumb, both chronic and acute illnesses are most successfully treated the sooner they’re diagnosed and addressed.
Why Does My Pet Need Lab Work?
We recommend running diagnostic tests on pets for a variety of reasons.
A pet’s first lab test usually occurs around the time they will be neutered or spayed. This helps us determine if it is safe to anesthetize a patient, identify any congenital conditions a patient might have and helps us establish a baseline for your pet’s health, which can be highly useful in detecting health changes in the future.
In young pets, lab work will often only be done if they are sick, prior to anesthesia or sedation and before starting certain medications.
Since very different illnesses often cause very similar symptoms in cats and dogs, lab work is incredibly useful for determining the underlying cause of the illness. Depending on your pet’s symptoms, we might recommend diagnostic imaging in addition to lab work.
We recommend running lab tests before administering certain medications and prior to any procedures requiring anesthesia so that we can ensure your pet’s organs are functioning optimally to administer these medications safely.
Once pets reach a certain age, lab work is recommended at least twice a year since age increases the risk of many diseases. The earliest signs of these diseases will often show up in the lab work before the pet experiences any symptoms and catching it early can improve the long term prognosis. The age at which this lab work will be recommended depends on factors such as species, weight and breed.
Complete Care with Veterinary Diagnostics
At Sleepy Hollow Animal Hospital, we’re proud to provide our patients the highest standard of veterinary care with both in-house and reference laboratory diagnostics. Our lab and diagnostic imaging services are available for routine wellness care and when a sick pet needs a quick diagnosis.
To learn more about lab tests for pets or to talk with a veterinarian about your pet’s test results, we welcome you to contact us today.