Veterinary care costs have been rising rapidly over the last few years, thanks to unprecedented inflation. You likely have limited funds for your pet’s care, and are therefore hesitant to agree to another wellness screening for your pet, who is acting fine, and whose test results last year were normal, as usual. But, regular wellness testing can be an up-front investment, because diagnosing disease early may save you money in the long run. The Columbia Pike Animal Hospital team lists reasons why wellness screenings are well worth your pet care dollars.

#1: Parasite screenings can save your pet’s life

Annual recommended parasite screening consists of checking a stool sample for intestinal parasites and a small blood sample for heartworm and tick-borne diseases. A recent study of dog parks across the country found that 20% of canine attendees carried parasites, which means many pet dogs are infected and can transmit parasites to your pet in most places other pets visit. Intestinal parasites are rarely fatal, unlike heartworms and tick-borne diseases. Ticks and mosquitoes are difficult to see on your pet, and can spread disease at any time. Plus, pets with a negative test one year can easily be exposed to parasites over the next 12 months, making annual testing essential.

#2: Blood tests can diagnose pet diseases early

Most pet owners see the value in parasite screening, but not annual wellness blood and urine testing, whose goal is to evaluate major organ function and look for signs of infection, inflammation, and other abnormalities. Results are frequently normal in younger pets, but can quickly change to abnormal in only weeks or months, since pets age much faster than humans. The earlier the abnormalities are detected, the more easily the disease can be treated, which translates to less money spent on treatments, more treatment success, and a longer-lived pet.

#3: Normal pet test results give you peace of mind

Pets can’t tell us when they feel “off,” and most pets will hide subtle illness or pain and act as if everything is OK. As your pet ages, the only way to truly know how their bodies are functioning is your veterinarian’s annual wellness examination and screening tests. Owners who have previously cared for sick pets, or those with aging pets, can take solace in the normal results that their pet is currently healthy, and they are doing everything possible to keep them that way. This peace of mind is priceless!

#4: Repeat pet wellness testing tracks subtle changes over time

In young, apparently healthy pets, annual wellness screening tests can establish the pet’s normal values that can be compared with the results each year to check for any values that are slowly trending up or down. Sometimes test results come back within the “normal” range quoted by the laboratory, but a change from previous results can still indicate an early problem. Without the yearly comparison, your veterinarian won’t know that results are abnormal for your pet.

#5: Untreated disease can snowball quickly

Some diseases can snowball and lead to secondary conditions if not controlled quickly and efficiently. For example, diabetes can lead to a host of health problems, including pancreatitis, high cholesterol, poor liver function, Cushing’s disease, and a life-threatening complication called diabetic ketoacidosis. Diabetic pets have elevated blood sugar levels, which are easily detected on standard blood and urine tests. Diabetic pets diagnosed on wellness screenings—before clinical signs are apparent—are often easily treated with insulin therapy alone, but if they are diagnosed after they are sick, treatment is more complicated and more expensive, and their blood sugar takes longer to regulate.

Your pet’s preventive care regimen is not complete without annual wellness screenings to “look” inside your pet and evaluate internal organ health. When your pet’s test results are normal, you can breathe a sigh of relief that your pet is truly healthy, and your efforts to keep them that way are paying off. When results are abnormal, your veterinarian can act swiftly to prevent problems from becoming worse, and increase treatment efficacy.

Contact the Columbia Pike Animal Hospital team to discuss why we recommend annual screening tests for your pet, or to schedule your pet’s next wellness visit.