The Importance of Routine Blood Testing

Jess, a little 11 year old Jack Russell cross recently visited Vetwest South Perth for a routine dental procedure.  At Vetwest, we offer all of our clients the option of performing a blood test prior to having an anaesthetic or sedation for a procedure. Although we are using the best and safest techniques, drugs and equipment possible, any type of surgery (whether for animals or humans) poses some risks. These risks are often related to underlying medical conditions that may not be apparent externally. To decrease these potential risks we highly recommend pre-anaesthetic blood testing, particularly for pets eight years of age and more. During the admission appointment, this was discussed with Jess's owners and they opted for us to do this pre-anaesthetic blood profile for Jess. A small sample of blood was collected from her jugular vein and run on the IDEXX machines at the clinic. The results were available a short time later and despite Jess being her bright, happy self, these results came back with some abnormalities due to potential changes in her liver.

After a discussion with her parents, we proceeded with her dental procedure with extra precautions in place and as there were no symptoms or signs that Jess was unwell she was sent home with her owners and a plan was made to retest her blood in 4 weeks time.  Sometimes, although the results are not normal at the time they can correct themselves if there is no chronic disease present.  Jess's bloods were tested again but unfortunately, her liver enzymes were still elevated above normal ranges. The next step for her was then an abdominal ultrasound to see if any pathological changes were present in her liver. During her ultrasound, a large mass was found in her abdomen which needed further investigation to diagnose exactly what type of mass it was.

Like many owners, we often don't know our pets are unwell as they can't tell us something is wrong. Jess was acting completely normal and happy with no symptoms whatsoever of being unwell so this was a complete surprise for her parents. This highlights the importance of doing routine blood testing for our ageing animals.

BUT, pre-anaesthetic blood testing is not just important for our older pets!

Rocky, a little French Bulldog was in hospital for his routine sterilisation surgery and a small umbilical hernia repair when he was 6 months old.  At his admission appointment, Rocky's owners said he had been a little off his food every now and again but otherwise he was just a normal happy little puppy.  They opted to do the pre-anaesthetic blood test for him prior to his surgery.  Again the test was run on the IDEXX machines in the clinic and the results returned abnormal.  Many nondescript symptoms like intermittent vomiting, tiredness, fussiness with food often etc. does not immediately warrant further investigation, especially in puppies as it can be completely normal and correct itself. For Rocky, his parents elected to proceed with further testing and once run, those tests indicated Rocky may have something called a Portosystemic Liver Shunt. Based on these results the best course of treatment for Rocky was to refer him to a specialist.  Rocky was referred to the medicine department at WAVES where they were able to confirm his condition and begin treatment with medications and dietary change.

Little Rocky then had a big trip over to Melbourne on his own to have specialist surgery performed at the University of Melbourne Veterinary Hospital. His surgery was very successful and after a brief recovery holiday, he was back home with his family in Perth. He will require dietary management for the rest of his life but this early detection very potentially saved his life.

Routine blood testing is important for pets of all ages even if they aren’t showing any abnormal clinical signs as we can see from Jess’ story. Nondescript signs and symptoms can still be very important and warrant further investigation despite waxing and waning as seen by Rocky’s story. They are both incredibly loved by their families and very lucky their parents elected to perform routine testing.

Contact us today if you would like to enquire about a routine blood test for your pet.

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