Taking the Mystery Out of Senior Blood Panels

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You have been taking your cat “Fluffy” and dog “Fido” to the vet annually for years.This year Fluffy turns 11 and Fido 8, and your vet recommends adult or senior wellness screens. What’s the big deal? They are only one year older and appear healthy. Why should you invest in blood work?

Age is not a disease; however, older pets are more at risk for many diseases. The cut off for “senior pet” may seem arbitrary, but it has been developed based on risk. Pets over this age are more likely to have serious diseases, than pets under this age. Cats are classified as “senior” at 11-14, and “geriatric” at 15+ years. Dogs vary based on breed and size. Giant breeds (Great Danes, St Bernard’s, Newfoundland’s etc.) can be considered senior as young as 6, whereas, small breed dogs approach their senior years closer to 10.

Some major diseases for which senior pets are at risk relate to metabolic or organ functions. Some are curable, some only manageable. Early diagnosis can give you and your pet quality, comfortable time together. In general the earlier a disease is diagnosed the better the prognosis. However, early disease stages are subtle and changes in behavior or attitude can go unnoticed. A routine senior screen can detect existing disease in an apparently healthy pet.

The senior blood panel is composed of blood-work, and in some cases a urinalysis. These two tests give the veterinarian a big picture of metabolic and organ health. Because individual values may vary from species standards, having baseline blood-work in a healthy pet is particularly useful for comparison should they become ill.

PCV, TPAnemia, protein levels
BUN, CRE, PhosphorusKidney function
ALT, ALP, AST, GGT, ALB, BiliLiver function
Na+, K+, Cl-, Ca++Electrolyte Balance
Amylase, Lipase, CholesterolIntestinal function
T4Thyroid function in cats
CBCWhite blood cell counts for infections and some types of cancer
UrinalysisInfection, crystals, kidney function, and bladder cancer, Diabetes

With a thorough physical exam and a laboratory work, your veterinarian can get an overall picture of your pet’s health. Early detection, disease management, and treatment will lead to a more comfortable and healthy pet who hopefully will be at your side for many quality days.

Data from the AAFP athttp://www.catvets.com/uploads/PDF/2008SrCareGuidelinesFinal.pdf and AAHA athttp://www.healthypet.com/petcare/PetCareArticle.aspx?art_key=1973ee87-a0d7-4f77-a930-1824ffcf8eda

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