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Pacific Veterinary Hospital

Why Does My Vet Recommend Annual Lab Work for My Pet?

Girl Lying Down Playing with Golden Retriever (Dog)

Annual lab work is a valuable tool for your veterinarian to provide care for your pet. Every pet, just like us has a different set of normal lab work values. Having lab work done when your pet is in good health gives the doctor an idea of what is normal for him or her. So when you and your pet arrive for an appointment at a vet visit where they are not feeling so well and the doctor suggests we run some lab work, they are able to compare any changes that are important, or if certain values are considered normal for them. 

Emergency visits are another good time to have current lab work on your pet. Annual lab work again provides the normal values for your pet’s doctor, and also if it is possible to give certain pain medications. NSAIDs are a great aid in pain control and are metabolized by organs that your pet’s doctor will want to make sure are functioning properly before their use. Older patients need the function of these organs checked annually as they sometimes require these pain medications for the treatment of arthritis. 

Our pets age at a much faster rate than we do. Some of the larger breed dogs are considered middle age when they are 4 to 5 years old. Annual lab work can help your vet check for the function of certain organs, infections, and thyroid issues. Some of the changes that come with deterioration or changes in the function of these organs can be slowed or helped with medications, nutraceuticals, or diet changes. Lab work can help you and your vet discuss treatment options that can help make for longer and happier life. 

Lab work done before surgery is required by our doctors at PVH as surgery requires the use of anesthetics and drugs that can be a stress on the organs. Intravenous fluids help with profusion, but knowing if their patients have special needs helps them adjust their drug protocols during the surgery and for their after care. 

Annual testing of a fecal sample can find parasites that are detrimental to the health of your pet and can be zoonotic. Zoonotic means that they usually exist in an animal, but can be transmitted to humans. Some examples are hookworms and Roundworms. Children are more susceptible to these infections. Google has some very interesting/scary pictures that will definitely support the need for annual fecal testing and monthly deworming. 

Heartworm testing is sometimes considered an option but is an important part of your pet's overall care. Heartworm preventative is given every 30 days and not only helps with heartworm prevention, but it also is a dewormer. Prevention protects the environment from parasite burden, helps pets to enjoy outdoor activities with their families without their families having to worry about infection, and gives them the freedom to travel to places where heartworm is a concern. The National Heartworm Society website has an interesting map that shows the number of cases that have been reported in Oregon and in all the other states. It also provides annual testing guidelines and recommendations. PVH has treated patients who have lived locally their whole lives and have not traveled to places with increased risk for heartworm infection. Positive results were found when they had their annual lab work and Heartworm testing done. While infected, these pets posed a threat to dogs living in their neighborhood that was not preventative.