Early disease detection is an important component of the quality care provided by the Fergus Veterinary Hospital. Throughout evolution, our pets have become genetically programmed to hide illness and injury in order to survive. While this was beneficial in the wild, it can lead to the late detection of disease that can be treated. Therefore, it is important to have regular screening tests performed to determine if your pet is completely healthy and happy or hiding a disease process! These tests include:
1. Weight and Body Condition Scoring
- A body condition score (BCS) is a numerical value, generally from 1 to 5 that is assigned to your pet based on their body fat percentage and appearance. A BCS of 3 identifies an ideal body weight, while anything above is overweight, and below is underweight.
- Greater then 50% of pets will end up overweight
- This is a very sensitive measure for changes in health
- Weight loss in the absence of a controlled diet is a serious and early sign of illness
- Excess weight increases your pets chances of developing diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure and skin problems, to name a few
- At the Fergus Veterinary Hospital, weighing your pet is provided free of charge for our patients
2. Urine microalbuminuria
- Albumin is the main protein component of blood and is manufactured in the liver. It primarily functions as a transporter for other substances through the circulatory system.
- This is a very sensitive measure for both kidney issues (albumin is being lost through the kidneys) and inflammation (decreased synthesis or increased degradation of albumin, and transfer of albumin out of leaky blood vessels) within the body. All of these circumstances represent abnormalities that will result in a shift in circulating urine albumin levels.
- If albumin levels are abnormal, the first step is rule out urinary tract disease. If that is normal, then inflammation, infection or cancer in the body needs to be searched out.
3. Parasite testing
- This can include heartworm testing (a blood test), fecal/stool examination under a microscope and more
- It is important to determine if your pet is suffering from a parasitic infections, since parasites may cause life-threatening illness, can be zoonotic (transmitted to humans), or affect the overall health and well-being of your beloved pet!
4. Arthritis screening with joint examination and x-rays
- There are rare cases of arthritis that result from auto immune, cancer, infection, nervous system diseases, nutritional errors, and so on. However, the majority of cases of pet arthritis arise upon either normal joints asked to bear too much load over too long of a time, trauma and ligament damage, or joints that have abnormal anatomy due to genetic reasons like conformation, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and related osteochondrosis syndromes.
- Unfortunately, 20-90% of pets will experience arthritis or joint problems in their lifetime
- The result is that your pet experiences pain
- Luckily, a number of measures can be taken to improve this condition, including lifestyle and nutrition changes and the use of certain medications and supplements.
- The sooner this process is caught, the less the damage that is done to your pet’s joints.
5. Blood tests based on age, breed, weight, etc
- This is helpful to detect the first signs of disease!
- Blood work can identify a number of things, including anemia, infection, inflammation, organ dysfunction, certain parasitic diseases, muscle damage, bone metabolism, electrolyte balances and more! Luckily many of these values are suggestive of particular disease processes and can therefore be a useful diagnostic tool to provide early detection of illness!
- Your pet should have blood work performed routinely to ensure that they are maintaining an optimal state of health!