Dogs and cats can’t clearly tell us when they’re starting to feel unwell. Which means we don’t usually know something is wrong until they show obvious signs of disease.
Regular wellness check-ups give us the opportunity to pick up on early signs of health problems before they become serious. Preventative health testing may be done as part of these wellness check-ups, as a proactive step to assess the health of your pet.
These tests can identify health problems that may be silent or early in the disease process, allowing you and your vet to get a head start on treatment. Preventative health testing is particularly useful in senior pets, who are more prone developing health problems.
There are many preventative health tests that your vet may use to help assess the wellbeing of your pet. Each test provides different information about the health status of your pet. Some common preventative health tests performed by vets include blood tests, urinalysis (urine analysis), parasite faecal exams, heartworm tests. In cats, there’s also the Feline Immune-deficiency Virus (FIV) tests.
Wellness Blood Tests
Preventative blood tests can be used to look at your pet’s blood cells, enzymes, and other indicators that offer a snapshot of your pet’s overall health. These tests can pick up on signs of reduced organ function, inflammation, and infection and are commonly used to discover signs of underlying health concerns.
It’s recommended your pet has wellness blood tests as part of their regular check ups, to check for signs of disease. Given our fur family ages faster than us, a yearly blood test for your pet is roughly comparable to a human having a blood test every six or seven years.
Urinalysis is analysis of urine. Vets use urinalysis to help assess kidney function and look for signs of infection and inflammation in the urinary tract. This test helps diagnose urinary tract health problems like kidney disease (including chronic renal failure, which is common in older cats), urinary crystals, and urinary tract infections.
Heartworm is a silent disease that can affect both dogs and cats. It’s caused by a parasite, the heartworm, and transmitted by mosquitos, that will colonise the blood vessels in the lungs. If left untreated, heartworm infestations lead to heart failure. It’s a slow onset disease, meaning that it can take years before a large burden causes clinical signs of heart failure.
Preventative heartworm testing can detect the presence of heartworm in your pet before the worm burden grows large enough to cause significant health problems. It is especially important to have your pet tested for heartworm if they have not received any heartworm preventatives in six months or more.
Parasite Faecal Exams
Intestinal parasites are another health problem that can be easily missed in your pet as it is usually only large burdens that result in obvious signs like diarrhoea or weight loss. Parasite faecal exams detect eggs shed by the intestinal parasites that aren’t visible to the naked eye, allowing us to identify intestinal parasite infestations early.
Feline Immune-deficiency Virus (FIV) Testing
FIV is a virus that suppresses the immune system, which means an FIV positive cats struggle to protect themselves against infection. It’s not always obvious that a cat is positive for FIV, with some cats not showing signs of the virus for as long as 10 years after infection.
It’s estimated that 14-29% of Australian cats are positive for FIV. The virus is spread through the saliva and blood of infected cats. Outdoor cats are at the highest risk of contracting this virus.
Testing is the only way to detect FIV. Early detection allows owners of FIV positive cats to take measures to prevent transmission of the virus and ensure their cat’s needs are met. There is no successful treatment for FIV.
Healthy Pets Plus members are eligible for free annual wellness tests
At Greencross Vets, a range of preventative health tests are included in the Healthy Pets Plus wellness program, including:
- Wellness blood screening test or pre-anaesthetic blood test
- Urinalysis test
- Heartworm test (Dogs)
- FIV test (Cats)
- Parasite faecal exam
These are in addition to other membership benefits including unlimited veterinary consultations, free access to WebVet 24/7 and much more! Learn more about Healthy Pets Plus here.
Want to book your pet for a thorough wellness check? Book an appointment at your local Greencross Vets