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Vale Park Animal Hospital encourages annual bloodwork to keep pets healthy

Aubrey Thomson
By: Aubrey Thomson Last Updated: October 8, 2020

While pet owners may only feel inclined to go to the vet when their pet is sick, going when pets are healthy can help your pet’s veterinarian identify what is wrong with pets when they are sick. Associate Veterinarian Dr. Kelly Rock from Vale Park Animal Hospital recommends getting pets’ bloodwork done on a regular basis.

“Bloodwork gives us the internal view of pets,” Dr. Rock said. “Certainly, we can see a whole lot of stuff, but there are always things that can be hidden, and bloodwork gives us a look into that world. It’s always good to have bloodwork done as soon as possible because it gives you a nice baseline with your pet. We can know that certain numbers are normal for that specific pet. When that pet is sick, we run that bloodwork again and compare it against the bloodwork from when they were healthy.” 

Once a pet gets blood drawn, vets are able to analyze it through something called a chemistry panel. Vets can determine the health of a pet’s organs by looking at enzymes in different parts of the body, such as the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. It also allows vets to determine if a pet has good hydration or not.

There are multiple kinds of blood tests that can be done on pets to identify a variety of problems. Complete Blood Count (CBC) tests are common tests that provide insight into a pet’s blood cells. 

“CBC tests look at the white blood cells and the red blood cells,” Dr. Rock said. “Each of those white blood cells give us a specific piece of information. There is a white blood cell that is for inflammation, one that’s more indicative of parasites being the problem, and those sorts of things.”

Pet owners should be sure to determine which tests their pet needs as different kinds of animals are susceptible to different diseases. Dr. Rock shared that while both dogs and cats should be tested for heartworms, the risks for the separate animals vary. 

“With dogs, every year we’ll look at a heartworm test,” Dr. Rock said. “We do their heartworm test as early as seven months of age. It takes about six months for a heartworm larva to become an adult. The last two are blood parasites that cause generalized discomfort of the joints. The test we use also looks specifically at three common tick diseases as well. Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis.”

“With cats, we check their status for feline AIDS and feline leukemia, which are diseases that can be passed among cats. We do that when they’re kittens around 12 weeks of age.”

Senior dogs, who are seven years old or older, need to get their bloodwork done annually. Ideally, all pets should get their bloodwork done on an annual basis. 

As for the actual process of getting blood drawn, some pet owners are concerned that the process hurts their pet and that the wound may reopen after initial clotting. Dr. Rock said that vets will typically draw blood from the jugular vein in the neck, which has proved to be the most effective and painless method of extraction. 

“The most uncomfortable thing for the pet is to just sit still,” she said. “Yes, there is a needle prick there, but it’s a pretty well-protected blood vessel. The needle we use to draw blood from there doesn’t cause any lasting harm to the vessel. It’s actually able to heal over pretty quickly.” 

“It’s also a really big blood vessel compared to all the others.”

Before drawing blood, the vet will get the pet to sit still while hands are placed on either side of the pet’s head. Most pets are unbothered by this process, but for pets who have a problem with people getting in its face, vets can also draw blood front and back legs. 

Pet owners need not worry about the wound reopening. After the blood is drawn, they put pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding and the pet will receive a bandage to keep a bruise from forming. Owners are instructed to keep the bandage on their pet until they get home. 

To learn more about getting your pet’s bloodwork done and schedule an appointment, visit https://valeparkah.com/.