You know your pet is wonderful, amazing, incredible—all the adjectives that mean they’re the best. Yet, after your furry pal’s wellness visit at Valley Center Veterinary Clinic, you may be told they are “normal.” We know that your four-legged friend is fantastic, not “normal,” but sometimes “normal” can be pretty awesome. Read on to discover how marvelous your pet’s normal wellness screening results really are.

Standard wellness screening tests for pets

While every pet receives customized veterinary care based on their personal needs, a few standard wellness screening tests are essential for all pets. Additional screening tests are recommended based on your pet’s breed, age, health status, and risk for potential disease development.

Depending on your pet’s needs, they may undergo the following wellness screening tests:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) — A CBC shows the numbers of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in your pet’s body and helps identify anemia, infection, inflammation, dehydration, and clotting issues.
  • Blood chemistry panel — Blood chemistry panels are used primarily to assess organ function but can also measure electrolyte levels, hormones, and blood sugar.
  • Fecal exam — A small stool sample will reveal if your pet has intestinal parasites.
  • Vector-borne disease testing — Vector-borne disease testing typically consists of a combination blood test that checks for heartworm disease and various tick-borne illnesses.
  • Urinalysis — A urinalysis assesses your pet’s kidney function and overall urinary tract health.

Senior pets benefit from additional screening tests, such as thyroid hormone levels, blood pressure readings, and X-rays, that can help diagnose common diseases in aging pets.

Frequency of wellness screening tests for pets

As a general rule, pets should undergo wellness screening at least annually during their regular preventive care visit. However, you should keep the following considerations in mind when scheduling wellness testing:

  • Puppies and kittens — A puppy or kitten who came from an unhealthy environment will likely require more screening tests as they complete deworming series and receive vaccinations. Puppies bred by low-quality, backyard breeders are more likely to have heavy intestinal parasite loads that can require several treatment rounds to eliminate. Stray kittens are often infected with feline infectious diseases and intestinal parasites that they contract from their mother and will need more frequent screening tests to assess their health status and treatment response.
  • Healthy adult pets — Healthy adult pets typically require screening tests only at their annual wellness visits. 
  • At-risk adult pets — Adult pets who are at risk for developing certain conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease, will benefit from more frequent screening tests before they reach senior status. For example, your overweight, middle-aged miniature schnauzer should be screened for diabetes as often as quarterly to monitor their glucose level. Or, your 5-year-old Abyssinian cat may need more frequent screening tests for kidney disease.
  • Senior pets — Senior pets often develop chronic health conditions after a lifetime of wear and tear on their bodies, and more frequent screening tests are important for detecting early stage disease. Depending on your pet, they may benefit from screening tests as often as every three months.

The value of normal wellness screening results for pets

When you receive your pet’s normal wellness screening results, you may wonder about the point of all that testing. Here are a few invaluable benefits of normal screening results: 

  • Providing a baseline — While every test has a range of normal values, not every pet’s “normal” falls in this range. Regular screening tests identify your pet’s normal values and are useful when your veterinarian creates a customized care plan.
  • Detecting early stage disease — Slight variations from your pet’s baseline values can indicate early stage disease, long before clinical signs appear. Early diagnosis and management afford a better outcome that is often less costly to monitor and treat than advanced disease.
  • Monitoring treatment response — If your pet has a chronic condition, such as congestive heart failure, they will require medication to alleviate their signs and manage their disease. Regular screening tests monitor their treatment response and can guide any treatment protocol changes. “Normal” results let us know that our current treatment plan is working well.
  • Providing peace of mind — You already know your pet is incredible, but knowing they are also “normal” provides peace of mind and reassurance that you are doing everything possible to ensure your four-legged friend’s health and happiness.

Don’t you want to know that your pet is “normal?” Give our Valley Center Veterinary Clinic team a call to set up your furry pal’s wellness visit and screening tests.