Wellness Testing in the Geriatric Pet
What is wellness testing?
Wellness testing is the term given to a group of tests that is performed specifically to detect signs of early disease in a pet that is apparently healthy.
Why do wellness testing?
Pets cannot tell you how they are feeling, and as a result disease may be present before you are aware of it. If a disease or condition can be detected before a pet shows signs of illness, we can often take steps to manage or correct the problem before irreparable damage is done. Wellness testing is particularly important in the geriatric pet, since there is a greater chance that underlying disease may be present.
When is wellness testing done?
Wellness testing is usually done once yearly, your veterinarian may recommend more frequent testing depending of your cat’s age or specific health concerns. Monitoring your pet’s health status on a regular basis makes it easier for the veterinarian to detect minor changes that signal the onset of disease.
What is involved in wellness testing?
There are four main categories of wellness testing for the geriatric pet: complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and (in cats) thyroid hormone testing. Within each category, the veterinarian will determine how extensive the testing should be. In younger pets without noticeable health complaints, relatively simple testing may be adequate. However, in the geriatric pet, more comprehensive testing is recommended.
Complete Blood Count -
This simple blood test analyses the cellular components in the bloodstream. These include red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues, white blood cells, which fight infection and respond to inflammation, and platelets, which help the blood to clot. The CBC provides details about the number, size, and shape of the various cells types, and identifies the presence of any abnormal cells.
Biochemistry Profile -
This is a series of tests performed on serum which is a component of blood. These tests provide information about how well the various organs of the body are working, and help to detect the presence of some metabolic diseases. There are tests to assess the liver, kidneys, and pancreas, tests to identify the presence of diabetes, and so on. If minor abnormalities are found on the biochemistry profile, the veterinarian may simply request that you repeat the tests at a later time; depending on the abnormality, this may be in a few days, a few weeks, or a few months. In some cases, a more extensive diagnostic workup may be recommended, including an expanded biochemistry profile, or special tests and/or imaging (x-rays, ultrasound).
Urinalysis involves an analysis of the chemical components in urine, as well as a microscopic examination of the cells and solid material present in urine. Urinalysis provides information about how well the kidneys are working, identifies the presence of inflammation or infection, and may detect the presence of underlying metabolic disease such as diabetes. Urinalysis is necessary for a complete assessment of the urinary system. It should be performed routinely as part of wellness testing, and is particularly important in the geriatric pet because of the high rate of kidney disease in older pets.
Thyroid testing (cats) -
The thyroid gland is like a “thermostat”, and it "sets" the metabolic rate of the whole body. Thyroid disease is common in the older geriatric cat, and cats that are more than eight years of age should be tested for thyroid function as part of routine wellness testing.
The most common thyroid disease in the cat is called hyperthyroidism, which develops when the thyroid gland produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormone. High levels of thyroid hormone cause a marked increase in the metabolic rate, which puts a strain on the heart and other organs. The typical signs of hyperthyroidism in the cat are unexplained weight loss despite as increased appetite, restlessness, increased thirst and urination, or vomiting and/or diarrhoea.
Wellness testing is a simple and effective way of monitoring your older pet's health. Early detection and correction of medical problems help to ensure that your pet will be healthy and active for as long as possible
Read more >Friday 20th of January 2017: The 'New Zealand Cattle Tick' or 'Bush Tick', as an adult, is a red-brown, 8-legged tick visible with the naked eye from 3x2mm to around 9x7mm (whne itâ€™s full of feed). Larval and nymph (juvenile) stages are much smaller (but still visible) with 6 legs and a dark to black colour. It is known as the three-host-tick as it transitions through three stages from larvae to nymph to adult by attaching to a host, engorging by sucking blood, then dropping back onto the ground and repeating through the stages.
Read more >Tuesday 13th of December 2016: The case of an overweight pet visiting the vet clinic is an all too common theme. Furthermore, the majority are visiting for health reasons that could be prevented if these animals were at their ideal weight.
Read more >Thursday 8th of December 2016: With summer just around the corner we thought it appropriate to give our clients some information on heat stroke, what to look out for and what to do should it happen.
Heat stroke occurs when your pet's internal temperature rises abnormally high above 39 C. because he/she is unable to lose excess heat through normal processes: mainly panting and radiation of heat into the surrounding environment.
Read more >Thursday 8th of December 2016: Summer is here and so are those nasty seeds that stick into anything, anywhere, any time.
Apart from it being painful to our four footed companions when these seeds burrow into them, it can pose important health risks too. In clinic we have experienced their migration into different areas of the animal, each with their own complications.
Read more >Thursday 8th of December 2016: Cushing's is a hormonal disease state caused by the excessive production of cortisol, one of the "fight or flight" hormones produced by the adrenal glands.
Normally, when the cortisol level of blood is low, a gland in the brain (called the pituitary gland) secretes a stimulating hormone (ACTH) to tell the adrenal glands to produce and release more cortisol. Once blood cortisol levels are high enough again, it inhibits further secretion of ACTH by the brain. In this way the body keeps blood cortisol levels balanced.
Read more >Tuesday 1st of November 2016: With the warmer months just around the corner it's time to once again consider the dreaded flea. Fleas can be a real problem over the warmer months, but it all starts now!
Read more >Monday 12th of September 2016: With spring arriving we are starting to see more itchy dogs through the clinic doors. The main cause of this seasonal itch is allergy. Skin allergies can be divided into a number of causes including contact allergy, flea allergy, atopy and food allergy/intolerance.
Read more >Monday 12th of September 2016: Desexing our pets is an important part of responsible pet ownership. As the days get longer and the nights get warmer, our pet cats will start to venture away from the fire and off the bed. More cats out and about means there is greater chance of unwanted pregnancies. Without any control in place, a single un-speyed female cat can produce up to 3 litters of kittens per year, with approximately 3-4 kittens per litter.
Read more >Monday 12th of September 2016: With summer approaching, it is important to make sure your cat has a fresh water supply available at all times. Cats are not very good drinkers and partly as a result of this are susceptible to lower urinary tract inflammation or, even worse, kidney insufficiency which can lead to kidney failure.
Read more >Friday 9th of September 2016: Rearing orphan lambs can be an enjoyable and rewarding job for a whole spectrum of people â€“ from a lifestyler with a couple of pets lambs to the owner of a highly productive stud flock fostering triplet lambs of high genetic merit. Pet lambs are also easy for children to rear and are a great way to teach them some of the responsibility of pet care. No matter what the situation though, the rules for successful lamb rearing are the same for every situation.
Read more >Tuesday 23rd of August 2016: On 27 May 2016, Diana and Jerry Greer's Labrador, Tiggy, whelped and had 6 puppies. Unfortunately one was stillborn, which left five.
Two days after whelping Diana noticed that the firstborn puppy was losing weight and on closer inspection found that he had difficulty suckling.
On day three I offered to take him and attempt bottle feeding him and see if we could get him going again. When I arrived home I saw that he had a cleft palate. This is where the journey of 400g Olo and I started. Of course I had no idea what I was getting myself into!
Read more >Thursday 16th of June 2016: I have a habit of trying anything at least twice so when the National Aquarium asked if I liked reptiles, I was keen to get involved. The playing field changed somewhat when the reptile in question turned out to be an American Alligator, but I was definitely still enthused, so long as the staff were happy to restrain her
Read more >Tuesday 14th of June 2016: It's coming to that time again - soon the cows will be calving and the calf sheds will be full of happy, healthy, bright eyed calves. They will have all had a good drink of high quality colostrum soon after birth, and will be well set up to become a great dairy cow.
Read more >Tuesday 7th of June 2016: Rat bait (rodenticide) poisoning is the most common poisoning we see in the clinic. It generally affects dogs as they are more readily ruled by their stomachs!
Read more >Tuesday 7th of June 2016: Ziggy is an active 7 year old Bichon Frise who's owner brought him into the clinic after noticing him urinating more often than usual but only being able to pass small amounts of blood tinged urine. He also seemed in pain and was not his usual bouncy self.
Read more >Tuesday 7th of June 2016: Most cats and dogs over 3 years old will have evidence of dental disease. Dental conditions we commonly see in the clinic include peridontal disease, broken teeth, retained temporary teeth and feline resorptive lesions.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Winter is the season for lice and if they are there in numbers in winter they will be there en masse by spring.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: Rumensin contains an active ingredient from the ionophore family called Monensin. It has an action on the bacteria present in the rumen leading to a change in the composition of bacteria type.
Read more >Friday 1st of April 2016: We are currently seeing and hearing about young beef cattle that are losing body condition and scouring. Some animals are being found dead or close to it. Examinations of these animals are revealing that internal parasitism is a major factor.