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Posted on 06-24-2015

As veterinarians, we can learn a lot by performing a physical examination of your pet, but there are some signs of disease that can only be detected with additional testing. This doesn’t only apply to pets that present with an obvious illness. Understanding what’s going on inside your apparently healthy pet is important too.

Below is a list of diagnostic tests that we may recommend to ensure your pet is healthy-inside and out. We want to know that your pet is as healthy on the inside as he or she appears on the inside!

Motto: Don’t stress over any test!

Motto: Don’t stress over any test!

Fecal Exam

We recommend checking your dog and cat’s feces at least annually (preferably twice a year) for signs of intestinal disease or parasites.  We will examine the feces for outward signs of disease such as blood, mucus and any abnormal consistency or color. We will then submit the feces to our reference laboratory where they centrifuge the sample to enhance the ability to find parasite eggs with the microscope. The lab will also perform an ELISA test (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay) to detect whether your pet has had giardia recently. The most common intestinal parasites beside giardia are roundworms and hookworms. Hook and roundworms can be transmitted to humans so it is very important to treat as soon as these parasites are found. Humans are not natural hosts for round and hookworms so early identification and treatment or better yet, prevention is critical for everyone’s health.

Heartworm Test

Each year, we recommend we collect a small sample of your pet’s blood to test for  heartworms. These parasites can be fatal in both dogs and cats. infected mosquitoes are the vector that transmit the parasite to your pet. Even indoor pets are susceptible as mosquitoes can come indoors and bite an unprotected pet.  Even if your pet is on heartworm prevention year round, it’s important to do this blood test annually as even one missed dose can put them at risk. If your pet is not on year round heartworm prevention, we recommend the test at least semi-annually.

Our practice philosophy is to carefully select what medications we recommend for your pet. Pets are part of our families too, and we do not want to bombard them with pesticides and medication. We do, however, want to be sure that we protect our animal companions against potentially deadly and difficult to treat parasites like heartworms.

Heartworm disease is very different in cats and dogs- ask us for more information.

Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Serum Chemistry Panel (also called Total Health Panel)

Some diseases do not show signs until later in the course of the illness when your pet is very ill. That’s why we recommend testing your pet’s blood annually to prevent disease progression or detect it as early as possible to minimize the health impact on your pet and the financial burden for you and your family. These tests tell us many things about your pet’s health – whether the pet is anemic or has an infection or whether or not internal organs are functioning properly. Early detection of disease is often key to reducing long term complications and helping your pet live a healthier, happier life.

Thyroid Panel

As cats and dogs age, they each can develop different issues with their thyroid gland. Cats develop hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is associated with increased thyroid hormone activity which can cause changes such as weight loss even with a ravenous appetite, vomiting or diarrhea, increased thirst and urination and restlessness, howling, or trouble sleeping at night.

Dogs more commonly develop hypothyroidism. Signs of hypothyroidism typically include unexplained weight gain, more frequent ear infections, skin problems or poor coat condition.

Both conditions can be diagnosed based on clinical signs coupled with expected changes in the thyroid panel. Both diseases are very treatable–particularly when caught early in the course of the illness.


Urinalysis also gives us an indication of how healthy your pet is on the inside. A urinalysis at least annually may indicate bladder or kidney infections, bladder stones, diabetes and other physiological changes. Once we have the results of the urinalysis plus the blood tests, we will have a picture of your pet’s internal health and doing our best to detect disease as early as possible.

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