Screening blood1 iStock_000004528468XSmallHave you ever had a diagnostic screening test? You know, when your doctor insists on checking your cholesterol levels, taking your blood pressure, or testing for glaucoma–even though you feel perfectly healthy?

Screening tests are a common strategy used to identify those who have a certain condition or disease even though they are not necessarily exhibiting symptoms.

These diagnostic screening tests are a powerful tool in both human and veterinary medicine, as many diseases respond better to treatment when they are caught early in their course. Many of the tests also provide valuable wellness information that allows your vet to make recommendations for diet or lifestyle to maintain wellness.

There are literally hundreds of screening-type tests that a veterinarian can order although it isn’t necessary to run all or most tests on all animals. Your vet will decide which are appropriate based on your pet’s lifestyle, age, breed, species, and risk factors. Some of the more common diagnostic screening tests include:

  • Fecal parasite screening

A simple stool check screens for infection with a variety of intestinal parasites as well as some rare respiratory, urinary, and other parasites.

  • Heartworm testing

This deadly, infectious disease can affect dogs and cats alike. A simple blood test can identify pets that have been bitten by a diseased mosquito.

  • Complete blood count (CBC)

A CBC looks at the body’s white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Changes in these cell populations can help to identify infections, anemias, and even certain cancers.

  • Serum chemistry

This blood testing allows the veterinarian to get a good look at your pet’s major organs, electrolytes, and blood sugar. Changes in these numbers can help uncover major underlying diseases.

  • Thyroid testing

Over- or underactive thyroid hormone is a common problem in pets, and blood testing is a very accurate way to identify affected dogs and cats.

  • Urinalysis

A quick look at your pet’s urine can tell your veterinarian a lot and may tip them off to problems such as kidney disease, diabetes, infections, and many other problems.

  • Blood pressure

Pets can suffer from high blood pressure, or hypertension, too! Some pets are at higher risk than others and may benefit from having their blood pressure taken periodically.

  • Abdominal and chest radiographs

Screening radiographs, or x-rays, can help your veterinarian to identify serious problems such as heart disease or cancer early in the process.

Screening testing is important to your pet’s health. By allowing your veterinarian to complete recommended tests, you are helping him or her to keep your pet as healthy as possible!