Veterinarians depend on laboratory testing to determine many facets of your dog’s health. You should think ahead and have basic lab tests done when your dog is young and in good health. This gives your veterinarian a baseline of your dog’s normal levels to help check for abnormalities as he ages. Subtle changes in new tests can help detect the presence of a disease in its early stages and may allow you to stop it, or at the least begin aggressive treatment to control it.
Once your veterinarian has established a baseline for your dog, you should have the tests repeated yearly. For geriatric dogs, testing every six months is recommended.
The following basic tests are recommended:
Complete blood count
The complete blood count test measures the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in a given sample of blood. The numbers and types of these cells help to diagnose anemia, inflammation, infections, and leukemia. It also helps your veterinarian monitor your dog’s response to some medical treatments.
Laboratory analysis of urine is used to detect the presence of specific substances that normally do not appear in urine, such as blood, protein, white blood cells, or sugars. Measuring their concentrations in urine helps in diagnosing diseases. Urinalysis is also used to diagnose urinary-tract infections, diabetes, dehydration, kidney problems, and many other potential health problems.
The blood-chemistry panel measures electrolytes, enzymes and chemical elements such as calcium and phosphorous. This information is invaluable to your veterinarian in checking the function of organs such as the kidneys, pancreas, and liver. This helps to diagnose: liver disease, kidney failure.
A fecal float can find many intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, Giardia, coccidia and tapeworms. Some abnormal parasites known as spirochetes or flagellates can also be detected. A positive test result indicates gastrointestinal parasitic disease. Negative results from one fecal sample may be misleading. Some parasites do not shed eggs consistently so some samples may be negative even though the animal actually has a parasitic infection. Repeated fecal examinations may be necessary to detect some elusive parasites. The test is indicated for pets with diarrhea, straining, lack of appetite or vomiting. Annual fecal examinations are recommended on all animals as part of a yearly health exam. Fecal examinations are also recommended on all puppies and kittens.