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WELLNESS TESTING - WHAT IS THIS?
Generally, Wellness Testing means having laboratory tests performed on the blood and urine of your pet. Sometimes other tests are included in the Wellness package such as an electrocardiogram (ecg); radiographs (x-rays); blood pressure etc. What is included will depend on the veterinary hospital and the age and possibly the breed (Boxer? Chihuahua? Persian) or species (Dog? or Cat?) of your pet.
Who Does The Testing?
Some veterinary hospitals perform laboratory tests on in-house equipment. Derry Road Animal Hospital sends all Wellness bloodwork and urine to a Commercial Laboratory that specializes in working with dog and cat specimens. The laboratory uses sophisticated equipment and employs trained Laboratory Technicians. We feel that the results will be more reliable and when a test result is outside of the reference range, the lab repeats the test on that sample, at no additional charge, to ensure accuracy. There are still times, however, when we choose to repeat tests at a future date to ensure consistency of a result, especially when the results are pointing at a serious disease with lifelong implication for treatment or where further more invasive diagnostic testing is being recommended.
At Derry Road Animal Hospital we try to keep Wellness Testing Simple. Initially it involves testing on only blood and urine and which level of wellness is recommended is based on your pet's age. (See below).
What Tests Exactly Are Included In The Wellness?
What Is A CBC?
CBC stands for Complete Blood Count. This means that all the cells present in the blood are counted - how many white blood cells are there? - there are 5 types of white blood cell that are counted. The red blood cells are counted too. Additional testing is done when it is a complete blood count...for example, tests such as the hemoglobin level. Finally, comments are made by the laboratory on the 'appearance' of the cells seen...do they look normal?
What Can A CBC Tell Us?
So many things it is impossible to go in to all of them here. To give you an idea, white blood cell levels are increased with infection and with certain types of cancer. They are decreased with certain viral infections. Red blood cells are often lower in number with anemia. Hemoglobin is lower when anemia is present. Get the picture?
What Are Chemistry Tests?
These tests tend to give information with regard to organ function. For example blood glucose level will be a reflection on the function of the pancreas, Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) and Creatinine reflect the filtration ability of the Kidney. Electrolytes such as Sodium, Potassium, Calcium and Chloride may be included depending on the Wellness Level.
Our Wellness Level 3 includes a thyroid hormone level. This is because thyroid disease is relatively common in both dogs and cats as they age. Specifically, Hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone level) in dogs and Hyperthyroidism (high thyroid hormone level) in cats.
We Can't Test For Everything!!
You wouldn't want us to test for EVERYTHING. The purpose of Wellness Testing is to screen for hidden problems and if no specific problems are identified (which is what we hope for) then the results help to establish a baseline of what is normal for your pet. If we find results out of the reference ranges then we will need to discuss with you what the implications are. Sometimes we just monitor and track (check again at some point in the future - could be as soon as a few days or as long at 6 months), other times we recommend moving to additional specific screening tests for a suspected disease or we may even suggest repeating the test to determine whether it is a consistent finding.