Regular wellness screening tests are an essential part of your pet’s preventive care. The results may show your pet is perfectly normal, but the tests still provide huge benefits for you and your four-legged friend. Preconceived notions about the lack of value in normal screening test results abound, so our Midtown Veterinary Hospital team is here to set the story straight on why “normal” is so valuable for pets, their owners, and their veterinarians.

Myth: My pet doesn’t need screening tests until they are a senior

Truth: While senior pets are much more likely to develop health issues as they age, adult pets are not immune to acute illnesses and chronic diseases. Also, young pets are born with congenital issues that may not cause obvious problems until much later but can be detected by regular wellness screening tests.

Ideally, wellness screening tests, such as a physical exam, blood work, parasite testing, and urinalysis, should be performed annually, if not more frequently. As your pet grows older, we will recommend additional screening tests more frequently. 

Conducting regular screening tests—and obtaining normal results—is invaluable for painting your pet’s overall health picture. Each normal test result contributes to a pattern over time, which allows us to more easily detect subtle changes that may indicate early stage disease. When we perform screening tests on your pet from a young age, we can better monitor their health status.

Myth: My pet doesn’t need annual screening tests, because they take parasite preventives

Truth: In a perfect world, every pet would take their monthly or quarterly parasite preventive without fuss. But, our world is far from perfect, especially when we are trying to convince our pet that prevention is the best medicine. No matter how mouthwatering the beef-flavored heartworm preventive chew, your furry pal may easily retreat behind the couch and spit out their monthly “treat” without you knowing. Or, your slippery pet may sneak outside and splash around in the nearby pond, right after you apply their topical flea and tick preventive. You don’t know how much product washed off, but you do know you cannot spot nymphal black-legged ticks in your pet’s thick fur.

So many things can go wrong with parasite preventive administration, making annual screening tests essential for determining your pet’s health status. Testing your pet every year for heartworm disease, multiple tick-borne illnesses, and various intestinal parasites provides important information, including verification that your pet is fully protected, or confirmation that they were too sneaky for their own good.

Receiving normal parasite screening test results is good news for multiple reasons. They mean:

  • Your pet is healthy.
  • Your prevention administration techniques are working.
  • Your pet is not threatening your community by acting as a reservoir for infection and disease.

Myth: I would know if my pet was sick

Truth: While you and your furry pal share everything, from potato chips to the perfect seat on the couch, the truth is that pets hide much more than their owners realize, and rather than sharing that they are ill or injured, they are much more likely to hide any health issue until the problem becomes too advanced and is no longer undetectable. 

For example, pets who develop chronic kidney disease (CKD) often do not show any clinical signs until they have lost about two-thirds of their kidney function. However, with early detection screening tests, we can identify kidney issues when as little as 40% of renal function is impaired—long before clinical signs appear and when the disease is harder to treat.

Although testing may seem necessary only if your pet is ill, early detection testing with normal results is as valuable as diagnostic testing with abnormal results.

Myth: Screening tests are a waste of money if my pet is healthy

Truth: You will not get a refund if your pet’s screening tests show no abnormalities, but the expense is still invaluable, because the tests accurately indicate your pet’s health status. You can’t put a price on peace of mind about your furry pal’s health and wellbeing. 

Routine screening tests also save you money in the long run. Budgeting for annual testing is often much easier than scrambling to pay a hefty veterinary bill for treating an advanced disease that went undetected for too long. By catching diseases in their earliest stages, treatment and management are easier, more effective, and less costly—and your pet will enjoy a good quality of life for longer. 

Wellness screening is clearly essential for all pets. If you want to know if your pet is “normal,” schedule their annual wellness visit and screening tests with our Midtown Veterinary Hospital team.