As a pet parent you understand that regular, preventive medical tests performed by your veterinarian are essential to ensuring a healthy and happy pet. As a veterinarian, I understand the clinical importance of preventive medical testing as it provides me with a deeper insight into the health of your pet, allows me to catch hidden or underlying issues (hopefully early), and aids in my diagnoses. Many of these tests are performed during an annual wellness exam—blood work, heartworm, intestinal parasite, and tick screens. Let us briefly examine how blood work and heartworm tests allow veterinarians to keep your pet healthy and happy. Stay tuned for next week’s article when we review intestinal parasite tests and tick screens.
Blood work helps to catch some hidden medical issues such as blood disorders, kidney and liver disease, and infection that often cannot be found during a physical exam alone. A seemingly healthy pet may have underlying health problems but won’t exhibit symptoms for a long time or not at all, as pets are masters of disguising pain. That is why veterinarians recommend pre-anesthetic blood work before any surgery or dental to ensure that the pet is fit for the procedure. Regular blood work provides a baseline for veterinarians to catch medical concerns early that can be reversed or controlled for extended periods of time.
Heartworm is a deadly, progressive disease transmitted by mosquitoes with few to no symptoms during the early stages of the disease. Therefore, you and your dog may be unaware that there is a serious medical problem happening. A heartworm test will use a small drop of your dog’s blood to look for the presence of heartworm proteins. Annual testing is necessary, even when dogs are on heartworm prevention year-round, to ensure that the prevention program is working and that you are not putting your dog at serious risk as giving preventives to a dog who has adult heartworms can be severely harmful and even fatal. Heartworm medications are highly effective, but dogs can still become infected through a missed or late dose, vomiting or spitting out of a pill unbeknownst to you, or rubbing off a topical medication.
Dr. Susan Bonilla is the owner of Passionate Paws Animal Hospital in Waxhaw, offering traditional and complementary treatment options such as acupuncture, chiropractic, and physical therapy. Full-service grooming is also available. You can reach her at 704-256-7576 or e-mail at Hello@PassionatePaws.Vet
Grooming Tip of the Week
If your dog or cat is suffering from fleas, you may be tempted to buy an over-the-counter flea dip shampoo in order to rid your pet of fleas. What you might not realize is that flea dip shampoos are extremely toxic to cats and should not be used on puppies. The active ingredient in many of these shampoos is an FDA-approved insecticide called pyrethrin (also known as permethrin). Despite it being deemed safe for dogs, it is still a chemical that can cause side-effects and should be used with caution as some dogs can be hypersensitive to pyrethrin. It is recommended to first consult with your veterinarian before purchasing a flea dip shampoo.