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Pet Wellness: Understanding Common Tests for Your Pet

By February 1, 2019 March 2nd, 2020 No Comments

When it comes to our furry family members, we have their best interests at heart. Annual exams are the best way to keep our pets healthy and in their best shape, and along with a yearly check up comes recommended tests for every life stage.

Here are some of the most common tests that our veterinarians recommend to protect your pet’s health. These routine tests also allow our veterinarians to detect any problems your pet may have early on. With early detection and treatment, your furry family members can live long and healthy lives!

Heartworm tests

Heartworm tests are recommended every year, or 6 months after a missed dose of heartworm prevention. During a heartworm test, your veterinarian takes a small blood sample from your pet, testing the sample for the presence of heartworm proteins. If your dog tests positive, further tests may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

Here at Sierra, we see about 8 heartworm positive dogs each year. Most dogs test negative for heartworm and can start prevention. Monthly heartworm preventatives are recommended year-round to protect your pet from this serious and potentially fatal disease. We also have a heartworm prevention injection that last six months if you dog does not like flavored medications or if you travel frequently. For affected dogs with advanced or severe heartworm disease, treatment can be very expensive and painful, and some dogs develop permanent lung disease.

Feline Triple Test: Heartworm, FeLV, FIV

We recommend the feline triple test annually for all cats. Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are both contagious among cats. Heartworm disease is caused by parasitic worms that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of affected pets.

FeLV- and FIV-positive cats don’t always show clinical signs of illness, and some cats with heartworm never show any clinical signs of disease. Since there is currently no complete cure for heartworm, FeLV, and FIV, prevention is the best way to protect your cat. All cats should be tested and retested as necessary for the presence of these potentially lethal diseases.

Pre-anesthetic blood work

Before general anesthesia for spay or neuter and dental exams, your veterinarian will perform blood work to ensure that your pet is healthy before undergoing anesthesia and surgery.

Pre-testing reduces the risk of any complications, rules out any blood-related conditions like anemia or clotting problems, and evaluates your pet’s ability to recover normally from anesthesia. We also recommend blood tests for all pets taking anti-inflammatories for pain to ensure safe and effective treatment.

Annual blood tests are recommended for senior pets. With special needs and the possibility of age-related health conditions, older pets benefit from yearly blood tests designed to detect the early or hidden presence of older pet diseases.

Fecal test

We recommend yearly fecal tests to check your pet for the presence of unpleasant intestinal parasites. These internal parasites live in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract and are usually hidden from view—an annual test can identify parasites like giardia, hookworms, tapeworms, and roundworms that can make your pet seriously sick.

Additional testing

Based on our exam findings and your pet’s clinical signs, we may also recommend additional testing:

  • If your pet is vomiting, we recommend x-rays.
  • If your pet does not improve with vomiting or diarrhea, we may bring in a board-certified specialist to perform an abdominal ultrasound.
  • If your pet is limping, we recommend x-rays.
  • If your pet is vomiting or having diarrhea, we recommend an extra fecal test for giardia.

At Sierra Veterinary Clinic, our primary goal is to provide the best in personalized, professional veterinary care for your furry family members. If you have specific questions or concerns about tests for your pet, please give us a call to speak with your veterinarian.

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