The Importance of Annual Bloodwork for Our Pets

October 18, 2023

Most pet owners come to expect and appreciate the importance of annual examinations,
vaccinations and heartworm and flea prevention for their pet. Something that is equally
important that will be recommended annually for every pet is bloodwork. Bloodwork panels
can be as simple as a parasite screening or can be a more comprehensive check of all internal
organ functions. Determining which bloodwork panel is right for your pet is something that will
be discussed with you and your veterinary team at 4 Paws Animal Clinic at each annual visit.

Why do we find bloodwork to be such an important aspect of preventative care at 4 Paws? The
answer is simple: a pet may look healthy from the outside, but we could be missing crucial
details about organ functions without looking at the body’s chemistry through bloodwork.
Congenital abnormalities (which occur in the womb) can often be detected in routine
bloodwork even in young, seemingly healthy pets. These abnormalities can include liver shunts,
underdevelopment of the kidneys, endocrine diseases, among others. Having an established
baseline bloodwork for each pet annually can also help us to monitor trends in certain organ
functions over the years which can alert us to oncoming disorders. Early detection of liver
disease and kidney disease can make the world of difference for quality of life and longevity in
our pets. For instance, treatment of kidney disease can increase survival rates by three fold
when detected early!

At 4 Paws, we offer various bloodwork packages to help meet the needs of each pet depending
on their stage of life and risk of disease while keeping budget in mind. We recommend to do a
blood screening for heartworm and tick borne parasites as a minimum standard of care in every
dog. In cats, especially cats that spend a significant amount of time outside, heartworm testing
and communicable viral disease blood tests are recommended annually. Additionally, starting
at two years old (the human equivalent of 20 years old), we will strongly recommend a baseline
bloodwork panel that includes three categories. The first is a CBC which analyzes a pet’s
immune blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. The second is a Chemistry panel that looks at
internal organ function such as liver, kidneys, blood sugar, protein levels, and cholesterol. The
third is a check of the body’s electrolytes which can be important to determine if a pet is
hydrated and has appropriate endocrine and kidney function.

As a pet ages, we encourage our pet parents to run full comprehensive annual lab packages in
pets which includes everything listed above as well as urine testing and endocrine testing. Since
pets can start to exhibit signs of endocrine or kidney disease as they age, these additional lab
tests can help us get a full picture of a pet’s health from the inside out. Something else to
consider as a pet ages is frequency of bloodwork. In some cases, if a pet has a known illness
such as decreased kidney function, we will likely recommend bloodwork on a more frequent
basis to monitor response to treatment and adjust treatment if needed. Additionally, since a
pet ages faster than humans, having bloodwork done annually in a 12 year old dog may be the
same as a 77 year old man waiting 5 years to have bloodwork checked again! This is why we
recommend bloodwork every 6 months in pets older than 10 years old.

The bottom line is, the more comprehensive blood screening we do in our pets, the better we
are able to detect disease early, when it is still manageable. This helps us to give our beloved
fur babies the best quality of life for as long as we possibly can. Please talk with our skilled
technicians and veterinarians regarding the different bloodwork packages we offer and what
would be best for your pet.
Please see this age calculator to determine your pet’s approximate age in human years: