You may have heard about diagnostic testing for pets that are sick… but did you know that certain tests can help keep your pet healthy in the first place?
That’s because wellness testing — or diagnostics tests that are performed when your pet is well — can uncover a lot of important information about your pet’s overall health.
With this additional information, your veterinarian at Animal Medical Clinic at St. Johns can be your partner in helping to prevent diseases…
And, to help keep your pet as happy and healthy as possible, for the long-term.
Why does my pet need wellness testing?
Dogs and cats often hide symptoms of a medical problem until it has progressed, and become more difficult and expensive to treat.
There’s a lot your vet can determine from a full physical exam… but, some of the pictures of your dog or cat’s health can only be determined with diagnostic tests.
These tell your veterinarian what’s going on inside of your pet’s body. And, they help detect early symptoms of a disease — before it becomes a serious problem.
With that in mind, here are the most common wellness tests recommended by the veterinarians at Animal Medical Clinic at St. Johns…
Which wellness tests does my dog or cat need?
It may vary from pet to pet, but here are some common recommendations…
A fecal exam
This very common, but very important, test looks for parasites and parasite eggs in your pet’s stool.
This test is not only relevant to your dog or cat’s health… but also a consideration for human health. Unfortunately, there are some parasites (worms, and microscopic parasites) that humans can catch. And, children are at a higher risk than adults, since they’re more likely to put their fingers in their mouth after being exposed to parasite eggs.
Often these parasites will cause symptoms like diarrhea or stomach upset… but, sometimes there are no symptoms, even when parasites are present. So, it’s a good idea to do a fecal check as part of a wellness exam — it’s good for the health of everyone in the house.
Bloodwork can check for many things, such as heartworm disease, blood cell counts, blood sugar, and the functions of important organs like the liver and kidneys.
Just like for us human beings — who often get routine bloodwork done at our own checkups — it’s a good idea to do this wellness test for pets, too.
That’s especially true for senior pets — but, it’s helpful for pets of all ages.
Note that bloodwork may also include infectious disease testing, such as feline leukemia virus and FIV (for cats), or Lyme disease and other infections carried by ticks (for dogs).
A special note on heartworm testing
In places where heartworm disease is prevalent (which includes St. Johns), heartworm testing should be performed at least once per year, even for pets that are on prevention.
That’s because heartworms can have very serious consequences, and even be fatal to pets.
A urine analysis is often done in combination with bloodwork. It provides valuable information about the health of the kidneys and urinary tract, as well as certain hormonal balances.
In some cases, wellness testing might include diagnostic imaging (x-rays or ultrasound).
This is most common for senior pets. Just like for us humans, the number of routine screening tests recommended by a doctor tends to increase with age.
Is wellness testing required for all pets?
When your pet comes in for their appointment, your veterinarian will make a plan based on several factors, including your pet’s age, how they’re doing at home, their previous medical history, and any unusual findings on the physical exam.
In other words, these recommendations will be made on a case by case basis and customized for your pet.
And, if you’d like to do these things for your pet but are worried about the cost — we can give our recommendations for pet insurance, and for other payment options such as Care Credit.
(Note: In some cases, certain blood tests may be required prior to medication refills, even if your pet is well. This is done for their safety.)
Is wellness testing painful or dangerous?
While all medical procedures carry some degree of risk, wellness testing tends to be very safe.
For the most common types of testing, there is usually only mild discomfort, such as from a needle used to obtain a blood sample. In general, most pets are more nervous about being out in a strange place like a veterinary hospital, and not so nervous about their wellness tests.
And some tests, such as a fecal exam, can be performed without any discomfort since you can collect the sample at home. If requested, simply pick up a fresh sample before your pet’s visit, and bring it with you.
Does my pet need to fast before their wellness tests?
This is required for some tests, but not others. We’ll give you instructions if it’s needed.
How long do I have to wait for the results of the tests?
In some cases, you’ll learn the results immediately, before you head home from your pet’s visit. Other tests get sent to a laboratory and may take a few days.
In either case, we’ll let you know what to expect. And if you have any questions, ask us anytime!
How do I schedule my pet for wellness testing?
If they haven’t been in to see us before — or, if it’s been a while since their last visit — they’ll need to come in for a consultation and physical exam.
But, in most cases, we can do their wellness testing the very same day, during their appointment.
To schedule — or for more information — give us a call at 904-342-6045.
We look forward to seeing you and your pal soon!