Friday, November 13, 2015

Ultrasound Scan

[Updated with further useful info at the very end of post]

Click [ here ] for our updated 2016 ultrasound scan and [here] for 2017.

Purpose of this post is to hopefully educate other humans why ultrasound scan triumphs over blood test. Many thanks to Mom's friend, J, for filling her in on the ultrasound scan details. Because if not for our ultrasound scan, Mom would never know of my three (minor) conditions because blood tests (CBC + blood chemistry) do not reveal these intricate details (and/or any inflammations) going on in our organs. And did you know, our awesome sonagrapher even ultrasound-scanned our eyes! Yes, you can scan just about anything even (external) lumps/tumors and it's non-invasive so you do not have to worry about say radiation like in the case of X-rays. Hence, we hope this blog post would be of help for your dog/cat just like how J has helped Mom so much.

We all went for our ultrasound (abdominal and cardiac aka echocardiography) scan on 18 Aug 2015. Usually we do yearly blood test + heartworm test + urine analysis only. But from now onwards, Mom will choose ultrasound for us instead. And should any abnormalities be detected via ultrasound, we will proceed to do bloodwork as ultrasound scan is more detailed and thorough. Ultrasound scan can be done at any age and is super safe, non-invasive unlike X-ray (radiation). Once a year is good usually, but for dogs over the age of 10, preferably once every 6 months. But we're going with once annually for now even tho' we're over 10.

It would be better if you find a professional sonagrapher (they are not vets) to do it instead of a vet as you'd want keen eyes and hands to do the reading. And sonagraphers are specifically well-trained in that area. Mom likes Dr. F alot! So do we!

Our abdominal (ab) scan covers all organs and for cardiac, the heart. Cotton and I went for for ab and cardiac scans while Chewy did only ab scan as Mom says she doesn't need cardiac scan since she's only 5 yrs young while Cotton is 9 yrs 9 mths young and I'm 10 yrs 8 mths young. There is no difference in cost for both dogs and cats (not sure about the bigger breeds). Current price for abdominal scan's SGD325 and cardiac scan's SGD441. (2016 UPDATE: we have switched to seeing Dr. S and pricing is slightly higher. Abdominal scan at S$397, cardiac at S$511 and opthalmic ocular [eyes] scan at S$200. All excluding GST)

Our sonagrapher (not a vet), Dr. F is well-trained in dogs ab and cardiac scan and cat's ab scan. Dr. S on the other hand (she's Dr. F's teacher) is better at cat's cardiac. However, Dr. S' fees cost more than Dr. F's and she's also seldom around, even when she is, she's usually fully booked by cats' ppl as she's very good at cats' cardiac scan.

Why we prefer ultrasound scan over anything else including bloodwork is because ultrasound is not invasive at all compared to ie X-ray (radiation). In Mom's opinion, X-rays should only be done in cases of blockages or bone issues, otherwise, avoid it. CT scan of cuz, requires GA and is not just expensive (over SGD2.5k) but also invasive. Basically, ultrasound first to reveal any internal inflammation or abnormalities, followed by full bloodwork and lastly CT scan (rarely needed unless its certain cancer or something very major).

Blood tests are not detailed enough at all as any abnormalities can only be detected IF the condition is acute enough; ie kidneys would need to fail at least 75% or more in order for it to show up via blood tests... which in this case, would usually mean end-stage renal failure. So there's really little that can be done already except sub-cutting and all. So if you happen to have perfect blood test results, don't be too ecstatic as it's actually a norm even for a chronically ill dog. Lauryn had perfect blood test (nothing was out of range) up till the day she passed. Go figure. Another example, a cat had perfect blood test results but her ultrasound scan revealed an enlarged lymph node, which is an inflammation. This helps the human to attend to the issue asap while its detected (hopefully) at an early stage before the inflammation manifests into a chronic dis-ease.

There's MANY intricate details going on inside us that blood tests can NEVER reveal. Hence, never ever bank on the results of blood tests to determine the overall health of your dog or cat. Your best bet is to ''look'' at our internals organs in real time under the keen and detailed eyes and hands of a professional sonagrapher. 

So now we know that an ultrasound scan can detect even the most minute inflammation. Inflammations as we all know, are the beginnings and cause of all dis-ease especially cancer. If not for this ultrasound, Mom would never know of my conditions (details below), though minor.

Dr. F was very impressed with our health at our age that she asked Mom what she feeds us with. Dr. F is pro whole food diet btw.

Cotton and I even had our eyes scanned (for cataracts/other eye issues)! Yes! Mom didn't know that it can be conducted on the eyes too. She asked Dr. F if its possible to check our eyes and she said yes, let's scan them? So Mom said ok.

So, Cotton and Chewy had perfect scores for everything. Cotton has perfect eyesight can u believe it?? When Cotton was 1 or 2 yrs young, vets upon seeing Cotton's excessive tearing told Mom to prepare for her to go blind when she's older. At nearly 10 yrs young now, our sonagrapher says she has perfect eyesight!

Cats often have GI tract inflammation which is why most cats vomit (yes, even raw-fed cats have GI tract inflammation and vomit alot). Mom is glad Chewy's GI is perfect, no inflammation whatsoever. Dr. F says Chewy's a super healthy cat.

As for me, 1st issue is my small (benign) splenic nodules (in my spleen if you dunno what splenic means). Dr. F says in her professional opinion, since they're really really small and my spleens are in good shape (no swelling or inflammations going on with it), its normal and nothing to worry about as splenic nodules are common in senior dogs as the spleen is a largely overworked organ. 2nd issue is the closing rhythm of my heart valve. It is still closing perfectly well which is good so that nothing seeps through, but the rhythm of the way it closes is a lil' off. Dr. F says its the very very very beginning stage of Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) so no medications is needed as long as Mom supplements me well and of cuz scan my heart frequently. 3rd issue is my eyes, again like my heart, its the very very very beginning stage of cataract. Dr. F says its so mild that its not really considered an issue at all. Mom thinks that my eyes started turning bluish when I was only 5 yrs young (photo below). But it's probably because of all the eye supplements that Mom gives me all these years (aside from our organic raw diet), its remained the same all through the years. So that's the end of my issues, hopefully they stay that way - MILD/very very very beginning stage and DO NOT worsen. Mom reiki(s) me alot alot alot more now to support in my healing.

I was the only one who did an extra full  panel blood test cuz of my splenic nodules just to ensure its all good and (most likely) benign. Blood tests were perfect, luckily. Cotton and Chewy did not need any blood tests.

So now you see why ultrasound scan is SO MUCH more important than blood tests?? Without it, my splenic nodules and heart valve issues would never ever be discovered until its probably end-staged. Now Mom has to concentrate on [ reiki ]-ing my spleen and heart mostly to assist in their healing.

Mom was provided with 41 pix of my scans (ab and cardiac), Cotton with 33 pix and Chewy with
12 pix (ab only) and a written report of our cardiac scans.

We also did not consult a vet. Just the sonagrapher Dr. F only. A tip for you, if you do not require a vet consultation (like in our case), but wish to do bloodwork too, you can request Dr. F to do it for you too. That way, you can save on vet's consultation fees. But of course should there be any major abnormalities seen in your ultrasound scans, do consult a vet there, unless Dr. F is confident that they are just minor issues like in my case.

We will post some random pix of our scan reports since there's too many to post and all of them really look almost the same to the untrained eyes.


Velvet's spleen (where the [benign] splenic nodules are at)

Velvet's left kidney

Velvet's left adrenal glands

Velvet's right eye

Velvet's left eye

Already bluish at 5 yrs young in 2010. Glad it didn't worsen at almost
11 yrs young now IF it really started happening back then.
Such is the importance of an organic raw diet + supplements.

Velvet's heart

Velvet's heart

velvet's cardiac scan report

velvet's cardiac scan report

velvet's abdominal scan report

velvet's abdominal scan report

velvet's full blood panel report


Cotton's stomach

Cotton's pancreas

Cotton's gallbladder

Cotton's heart

Cotton's left eye

Cotton's right eye

cotton's cardiac scan report

cotton's abdominal scan report

cotton's abdominal scan report


Chewy's colon

Chewy's small intestine

Chewy's stomach

chewy's abdominal scan report

scanning my eyes!

can't believe she has perfect eyesight
btw, cotton's face is WHITE now!!
Mom says she's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
pix below

We're truly The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Reverse growing, haha! Prettier as we age at me going 11 yrs young in March 2016 and Cotton 10 years young in Feb 2016.


Some ppl are still unconvinced about the benefits of ultrasound scan.

Basically Mom is focusing on dis-ease that pose NO symptoms (unlike tick fever or FIV or FeLV) ie cancer, internal tumors, organ health/size heart issues etc. Mom cannot stress on how many dogs she has known of personally who have been diagnosed with renal failure and pass on in less than a year. That is what she means by blood tests only reveal chronic/acute dis-ease when they are BAD enough that nothing much can already be done to reverse/heal the dis-ease.

Some general issues listed by Mom's friend, J, that ultrasound scan is able to reveal:

1) Bile Sludge
2) Bladder Cysts
3) Intestinal Inflammation
4) Lymph Node enlargement or swelling that MIGHT indicate cancer
5) Thickness of colon and intestinal walls (prone to constipation or IBD with thickened colon/intestinal walls)
6) Chronic Pancreatitis (scarring occurs with once inflamed and recovered pancreas preventing flare-ups)
7) Thyroid
8) Size of organs ie kidneys and liver
9) Brightening or fatty tissues
10) Obstruction in organs
11) Gastritis

 The following pix reveals first hand on how important ultrasound scans are. While heart murmurs (like in Derry's case) can be detected through a stethoscope, it doesn't reveal anything further than that that could be going on in the heart for ie Mitral Valve Disease (MVD), organ enlargement, etc etc. So never ever take for granted that all is well internally when the necessary tests are not done at all. Don't wait till it is too late. When a dis-ease is detected early (like in my case), it can be managed well or even reversed with supplements and in worse scenarios, with medications... rather than it be unknown and left to deteriorate to the point of no return or sudden death scenarios.

Click [ here ] for link to article below

What Is an Ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a form of imaging that allows us to look inside your pet’s body without surgery. It is a completely noninvasive technique. The ultrasound machine sends sound waves into your pet’s body, listens for the echoes, and the echoes form a picture of what’s going on inside your pet.
Ultrasounds can give us information about organs in the abdomen, the chest and heart, and the eye, for example. This article will zero in on abdominal ultrasounds.

Why Your Vet Wants an Abdominal Ultrasound

Your vet may suggest an ultrasound of the abdomen for many reasons:
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lack of appetite (anorexia)
  • Fluid detected in the abdomen
  • A mass or abnormality found during a physical
  • Unexplained vomiting or diarrhea
  • Urogenital problems
  • Abnormal bloodwork or X-rays
  • ADR (ain’t doin’ right)
Ultrasound allows us to look at the size and texture of organs in a three-dimensional way. An ultrasound can show abnormalities on the surface of organs as well as changes within those organs. This information can be invaluable in deciding:
  1. To do surgery or not
  2. To do biopsies
  3. To do more specific blood tests
  4. To get helpful information prior to surgery

What to Expect if Your Pet Has an Ultrasound

If you have had an ultrasound done on yourself, you know how straightforward it is. The wand is pressed over your body, and pictures show up on a monitor. The only difference for an animal is that the fur needs to be clipped away a bit. Usually, the entire abdomen can be looked at in a 15- to 30-minute span.
In my hospital, you can be with your pet if you choose. There is no need for sedation unless Mr. Spock shows uncharacteristic nervousness or Klingon tendencies. Spock gets to have lots of love and Vulcan ear rubs while lying on his side as we take a look at all his organs. A very cantankerous kitty may need some IV sedation. If biopsies are to be taken, this may require anesthesia.

This video shows the steps of an ultrasound and the images it produces:

How Much Are We Talking About?

The cost of an ultrasound varies. A ballpark estimate, from Wrigley to Fenway, is $250 to $500. Biopsies, fine needle aspirates, anesthesia or IV fluids would all be additional if indicated.
If your vet feels strongly about recommending an ultrasound, I believe this can be money well spent. With the information gained, we often can make a much better decision about how to proceed, saving you money in the long run or making sure continual expenses are warranted.

Common Ultrasound Diagnoses

1. Masses in the abdomen. Say your vet palpates a growth or abnormality in the abdomen, or X-rays show a possible mass. An ultrasound can often tell you what organs are affected and if surgery is the right option.
Before general use of ultrasound, we did many more exploratory surgeries with much less information about what we were going to find. Today, an ultrasound before surgery can give your pet the best chance of survival or prevent that pet from having surgery at all.
2. Bladder and kidneys. Ultrasounds help us to look inside the bladder, the kidneys, the prostate or uterus. If your pet is having problems urinating, recurrent infections or bloodwork shows kidney problems or infection, an ultrasound can be invaluable.
Ultrasound makes the diagnosis of a bladder tumor, for example, much easier. An ultrasound can show us if your furhead has a tumor, where it is located in the bladder, and if surgery carries a fair to good prognosis.
3. Adrenal glands. You have probably heard a bunch about Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism) in older dogs and how frustrating it can be to diagnose and treat. Ultrasound lets us look at the small adrenal glands, difficult to see on plain X-rays, and gives us another piece of the Cushing’s puzzle.

There are many other things discovered on an abdominal ultrasound, but my take-home message is simple. If your vet thinks an ultrasound is warranted, it can save you time and money in the long run, get you a quicker diagnosis, and either save your fur bundle from unnecessary surgery or get him lifesaving surgery more quickly, and in the right facility.

Click [ here ] for link to article below

Abdominal Ultrasound in Dogs

An ultrasound (also called a sonogram) is a non-invasive procedure used to evaluate the internal organs in dogs and other animals. Ultrasound examinations can be used to examine the abdominal organs, heart, eyes and reproductive organs. For many abdominal disorders, both ultrasound and X-rays are recommended for optimal evaluation. The X-ray shows the size, shape and position of the abdominal contents, and the ultrasound allows the veterinarian to see inside the organs. The abbreviation of US is commonly used for ultrasound. An abdominal ultrasound is indicated to evaluate dogs with abdominal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, straining to urinate or urinating blood. This test can also be helpful in cases of reproductive abnormalities, unexplained fever, loss of appetite or weight loss. An abdominal ultrasound is often done if an X-ray, blood tests, or physical examination indicate a problem with an abdominal organ such as the liver, spleen, or pancreas. If physical examination reveals abdominal pain or enlargement of an abdominal organ, ultrasound examination could be indicated. As with people, the abdominal ultrasound can also be used to detect early pregnancy and determine viability of the fetus later in the pregnancy. Many veterinarians refer dogs needing an ultrasound exam to a specialty veterinary hospital because performing the procedure requires specialized skills and equipment. Some clinics do have ultrasound facilities on-site, and others use the services of mobile specialists who come to the clinic to perform ultrasound examinations. There is no real contraindication to performing this test. Even normal results help determine health or exclude certain diseases. Read more at:
An ultrasound (also called a sonagram) is a non-invasive procedure used to evaluate the internal organs in dogs and other animals. Ultrasound examinations can be used to examine the abdominal organs, heart, eyes, and reproductive organs. For many abdominal disorders, both ultrasound and X-rays are recommended for optimal evaluation. The X-ray show the size, shape and position of the abdominal contents, and the ultrasound allows the veterinarian to see inside the organs. The abbreviation of US is commonly used to ultrasound.

An abdominal ultrasound is indicated to evaluate dogs with abdominal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, straining to urinate or urinating blood. This test can also be helpful in cases of reproductive abnormalities, unexplained fever, loss of appetite or weight loss. An abdominal ultrasound is often done if an X-ray, blood tests, or physical examination indicate a problem with an abdominal organ such as the liver, spleen, or pancreas. If physical examination reveals abdominal pain or enlargement of an abdominal organ, ultrasound examination could be indicated. As with people, the abdominal ultrasound can also be used to detect early pregnancy and determine viability of the fetus later in the pregnancy.

Many veterinarians refer dogs needing an ultrasound exam to a specialty veterinary hospital because performing the procedure requires specialized skills and equipment. Some clinics do have ultrasound facilities on-site, and others use the services of mobile specialists who come to the clinic to perform ultrasound examinations. There is no real contraindication to performing this test. Even normal results help determine health or exclude certain diseases.

What Does an Abdominal Ultrasound Reveal in Dogs?

Abdominal ultrasound helps in the evaluation of abdominal organs including the liver, spleen, stomach, intestines, kidneys, bladder, uterus and prostate gland. This test can be extremely useful in detecting changes in the shape, size, tissue, density, internal structure, and position of organs. This exam can also identify most abdominal masses or tumors, abdominal fluid, and abnormal lymph nodes. Frequently abnormal tissue or fluid is sampled with a needle or biopsy instrument using the guidance of the ultrasound exam.

Ultrasound is an excellent diagnostic test and is non-invasive and painless. However, as with all tests, it is neither 100 percent sensitive or specific. In some cases, additional diagnostic procedures such as endoscopy (scoping), contrast X-ray with barium or intravenous contrast (dye) study will be needed to diagnost an intra-abdominal problem. The last resort in most cases of unexplained of abdominal disease is an exploratory surgery.

How is an Abdominal Ultrasound Done in Dogs?

Specialized (and very expensive) equipment is used to perform an ultrasound exam. The hair on the abdomen needs to be clipped. The pet is placed on a padded table and held so the abdominal surface is exposed to the examiner. A conductive gel is placed on a probe (transducer) that is attached to the ultrasound machine. The examiner places the probe on the skin of the abdomen and moves it across the surface to examine the organs or regions of interest. Ultrasound waves are transmitted from the probe and are either absorbed or echo back from internal organs. Based on how many sound waves are absorbed or reflected, an image of the internal organs is displayed on a computer screen. With proper training ans sufficient experience, the sonographer (examiner) can create consistent images of the internal organs and recognize departures from normal. Abdominal ultrasonography is a safe procedure and generally takes about 20 to 60 minutes to complete. The only risk involved occurs during fine needle aspiration or biopsy of suspected lesions (diseased tissues). Rarely, biopsy will lead to serious bleeding or damage to an internal organ. However, the procedure is far safer and less invasive than an exploratory surgery of the abdomen.

Is an Abdominal Ultrasound Painful to Dogs?

No pain is involved. The procedure is non-invasive.

Is Sedation or Anesthesia Needed for an Abdominal Ultrasound?

Neither sedation or anesthesia is needed in most patients; however, some dogs resent laying on their backs and may require some sedation to allow a diagnostic procedure. If a biopsy needle is used to obtain a tissue sample, a local anesthetic or ultrashort anesthesia is used.

Click [ here ] for link to article below

The Importance of Blood Tests To Your Dog

When to demand – and when it’s safe to deny – blood tests for your dog.

Your six-month-old puppy is scheduled to be spayed tomorrow. When you call to confirm your appointment, and review the veterinarian’s estimate of charges with the receptionist, you learn that you will be charged $60 for a blood panel. Is this necessary?

• Your five-year-old Golden Retriever seems sick. You’re observing him for any evidence of disease or injury. And yet, all you can really find is that Ralph seems “not himself.” A friend urges you to have Ralph’s blood tested . . . What for?

• Your Poodle is eight years old. She has bad breath and tartar-encrusted teeth, so you make plans to take her to a veterinarian to have her teeth cleaned. However, the doctor demands to perform a blood test before he will anesthetize her for a dental scaling. What’s that got to do with anything?

• At a recent health exam, your veterinarian asks about your 12-year-old Pointer’s activity level. You explain that the dog has begun to decline to join you on your daily jog, and chalk it up to the onset of his “old age.” But your veterinarian is alarmed, and asks to conduct blood tests. Isn’t it normal for an old dog to want some rest?

A visit to a veterinarian is imminent for each animal, even though the justification for each individual’s blood test is different. In each of the cases we’ve described, blood testing will reveal a wealth of useful information about the dog’s state of health. There are cases, however, where this information is really not needed. How can you know when blood tests will and will not repay your investment with information that is critical for tailoring a treatment plan for your dog?

You can answer the question for yourself, once you understand what blood tests can and can’t do.

What is a blood test?
Blood is composed of different types of cells, and the status and percentage of type of cell present in the mixture communicates important facts. There are a variety of ways to examine blood; each examination method reveals specific information. A morphologic inspection consists of looking at the shape of the blood cells under a microscope. A complete blood count (CBC) is just what it sounds like – an actual count of the various types of red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), and platelets present in a specific volume of blood. The goal of measuring blood by means of a hematocrit (HCT) or packed cell volume (PCV) is to determine the amount of RBCs.

A chemistry profile identifies and quantifies other agents in the blood, including enzymes, glucose, proteins, electrolytes, cholesterol, and other substances produced by the internal organs. A “chem screen,” as it is often called, can tell a trained observer how well these organs are functioning. For example, a lack of albumin, which is produced by the liver, can alert you to decreased liver function; a high amount of amylase, which is produced by the pancreas, can indicate pancreatic and/or kidney disease. Typically, 28 different chemical values are yielded from each blood sample, and, studied together, these tests can help identify the location and severity of disease in the body.

Blood can be regarded as a rich river of information about the body. While it is possible that a dog can have health problems without any detectable abnormalities in his blood, these cases are the exceptions, rather than the norm.

When should blood be tested?
The cases described at the beginning of this article are good examples of the most beneficial opportunities to glean information about a dog’s health.

A young dog, at the veterinarian’s office for a spay or neuter surgery, should not be expected to have any health problems that would preclude anesthesia or surgery. However, veterinarians will tell you that there is one great reason to authorize the additional expense of a blood test at this time: the future. Your dog’s vigorous youth is the optimum time to establish a “baseline,” that is, a chemical picture of how she “looks” when she’s healthy. Results of these tests can be compared to those from tests taken in times of trouble to establish the extent of the deviations from her “normal.” Some veterinarians use this same rationale to request that you allow annual blood tests on your apparently healthy animal. This is undeniably a great opportunity to detect subtle signs of disease before your dog has an opportunity to display symptoms; early treatment of any disease helps prevent permanent damage.

On the other hand, if your young dog is bright-eyed, glossy-coated, and energetic, the tests may never detect anything amiss. Today’s veterinarians are taught to be assertive in encouraging owners to “make an investment in their pet’s health,” but the truth is, authorizing tests at this time in your dog’s life is entirely up to your own conscience and pocketbook. The possibility that you might discover early signs of disease is a compelling concept, but it shouldn’t be considered mandatory by any means. After all, not many of us have annual blood ourselves.

A dog who is “not quite right”
Blood tests are very valuable in cases where a dog isn’t displaying any overt signs of disease or injury, but still doesn’t seem quite like himself. A veterinarian attending to such a dog, like the Golden Retriever mentioned at the beginning of the article, would first conduct a thorough physical exam and take a complete history. However, there are numerous cases where a blood test and only a blood test would be able to reveal the source of his subtle malaise. For example, standard blood tests might show that his red blood cells were smaller than usual, his hemoglobin levels were low, and that he had an iron deficiency. These facts would suggest that the dog may have been losing small amounts of blood through his stools over a period of time. A radiograph of his digestive tract would be indicated, and the pictures could reveal an intestinal tumor that was responsible for the blood loss.

Chem screens can also detect – if not always identify – complex problems with the endocrine system. The endocrine system is responsible for making gradual responses to environmental and internal stimuli, which are mediated by chemical substances (hormones) secreted by endocrine glands into the blood.

An experienced veterinary interpreter of the test results can read the hormonal responses that have been dropped into the blood system like clues to a crime. Thyroid dysfunction is the most frequently recognized endocrine disorder of the dog, followed by adrenal function disorders, Addison’s and Cushing’s syndromes (hypo- and hyper-adrenocorticism) which are very common in adult and aging dogs. Though these diseases may be detected early through routine periodic screenings and managed so as to improve quality of and prolong life, they are difficult to diagnose accurately without appropriate laboratory tests.

“Today, viral and bacterial diseases aren’t the main cause of death for many dogs; as with humans, dogs are living longer due to better disease control and good nutrition,” comments Dr. Fred Metzger, a veterinarian from State College, Pennsylvania. “My clinical experience demonstrates the most common diseases as renal disease, then diabetes, and third, either hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease. Fortunately, if a client will avail himself of them, there are many clues blood tests can give us when these diseases are in progress, especially for geriatric animals.”

Other conditions commonly detected by blood work include hypercalcemia (too much blood calcium which could indicate possible tumor growth), and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar indicating diabetes). “Hypothyroidism is a common problem in aging dogs, so, starting at age seven, thyroid panels should be included in all dogs’ blood panels,” says Dr. Metzger. “Electrolytes tests are important too. For example, Addison’s syndrome (hypoadrenocortism) is frequently associated with severe hyponatremia (low sodium), but is frequently misdiagnosed by those who don’t run electrolyte panels.”

Pre-surgical tests
The middle-aged Poodle in need of dental work is another classic candidate for blood tests. Anesthetic drugs are processed by the liver and kidneys, which also remove the drugs from the body in a more or less predictable rate. However, if the dog’s liver and/or kidney function are impaired, normal usage of anesthetic drugs can have deadly consequences for the dog.

Just as with people, as your dog ages, her organs gradually become less efficient. Holistic veterinarians speculate that the plethora of toxins that modern dogs are exposed to (from flea-killing pesticides to preservatives in commercial dog foods) speeds up the degradation of these organs, rendering them ill-prepared for the major challenge of removing anesthetic from the bloodstream.

Results of a pre-surgical blood test, specifically focused on the values that reveal the efficiency of the liver and kidney, can help the veterinarian select the safest dose and type of anesthetic drug for your dog.
Alternatively, in case of tests that reveal very poor organ function, the veterinarian may want to discuss the risks and benefits of the surgery with you, or may elect not to risk the surgery at all.

It’s impossible to say exactly when your dog’s organs are likely to start showing signs of compromised function. After all, what ages are considered “middle-aged” and “geriatric” differ widely from breed to breed.

Again, it’s ultimately up to you to decide, with input from your veterinarian. Are there any other reasons to believe your dog’s vital organs are not as vigorous as they should be? Any dog with chronic health problems is a good candidate for a pre-surgical blood test. But if your middle-aged dog is energetic, fit, and happy, you’d probably be safe foregoing the test. Do young, healthy animals need a pre-surgical blood test? This is where opinions vary wildly. Emotion and economics are what usually inform an owner’s decision. Since it IS possible, but highly uncommon, for a young dog to have as-yet undetected liver or kidney problems that could complicate anesthesia, a breeder with a valuable or rare breeding animal may consider the extra expense as “insurance.”

A veterinarian’s personality and style of practice are what generally shape his or her opinion of this matter. Aggressive proponents of the tests MAY be opportunistic, looking for a way to increase billable services, but more likely, they are medical conservatives, trying to further reduce the chances that the animal will suffer complications on their surgical table. Holistic veterinarian Dr. Jean Hofve, of Denver, Colorado, usually skips pre-surgical blood tests for apparently healthy young and middle-aged animals. “The most widely used anesthetic today, isoflurene, is quick-acting and quick to be metabolized out of the system. It is considered very safe. Older dogs should be watched more carefully for blood pressure changes while under the anesthetic, but administration of IV fluids would take care of potential problems.”

Dr. Metzger is more conservative. “This is a good time to get base-line information on the dog for future use, as well as to check liver and kidney function. The client learns something, and we have information to use and compare to if there is a medical event someday down the line,” he says. Veterinarian and clinical pathologist Joe Zinkel, of the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, has adopted a middle-of-the-road approach. “For a young healthy animal in for elective surgery, such as spay, neuter, dew claw removal, or dental, I’d run a few, minimal tests – say, the packed cell volume to rule out anemia, and with the fluid left from the sample, a dipstick Blood Urea Nitrogen (AZO test) for a quick kidney test. With good results from these two simple tests, the practitioner can be pretty much assured that the animal is in overall good health, a good candidate for a surgical procedure.”

Geriatric dogs
As for the 12-year-old Pointer who has decided to give up jogging? Most veterinarians would advise including a blood test in any elderly dog’s annual health examination. And a dog who has begun to “show his age” with stiffness, reluctance to exercise, or depression may actually be manifesting signs of disease, rather than “age.”
Once older dogs have their health problems diagnosed and treated, their owners are often surprised to discover them return to a level of activity they haven’t seen for years.

Keeping perspective
Aside from the cost, there is perhaps only one downside of running blood tests: the possibility that your dog’s “normal” values are not normal for the rest of the dog population, tempting a thorough veterinarian to order further diagnostic tests. Dr. Zinkel explains: “From time to time you’ll see perfectly healthy animals that may have one value out of the ballpark, giving an odd value that you may chase down to no avail.”

Dr. Zinkel estimates that as many as one out of every 20 animals may have blood values that are abnormal, without having any health problems. While he appreciates how quickly the labs are now able to return critical information back to veterinarians’ offices, he says it’s important to view the results in context. “The value of blood tests is inestimable, but the veterinarian’s physical exam, history, and other observations will always be indispensable,” he says.

Click [ here ] for link to article below

Blood Chemistry Tests and the Information They Provide

Albumin (ALB)
Reduced levels of this protein, which is produced by the liver, can point to chronic liver or kidney disease, or parasitic infections such as hookworm.

Alanine aminotransferase (ALT)
An enzyme that becomes elevated with liver disease.
Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP)
An enzyme produced by the biliary tract (liver). Elevated levels can indicate liver disease or Cushing’s syndrome.
Amylase (AMYL)
The pancreas produces and secretes amylase to aid in digestion. Elevated levels can indicate pancreatic and/or kidney disease.

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
BUN is produced by the liver and excreted by the kidneys. Testing for it helps to detect liver and kidney abnormalities.

Calcium (Ca+2)
Increased levels of this mineral can be an indicator of certain types of tumors, parathyroid or kidney disease.

Cholesterol (CHOL)
Elevated levels of cholesterol are seen in a variety of disorders including hypothyroidism and diseases of the liver or kidneys.

Creatinine (CREA)
Creatinine is a by-product of muscle metabolism and is excreted by the kidneys. Elevated levels can indicate kidney disease or urinary obstruction.

Blood Glucose (GLU)
High levels can help diagnose diabetes and can indicate stress. Low levels can indicate liver disease.

Phosphorus (PHOS)
Can be an indicator of kidney disease when elevated.

Total Bilirubin (TBIL)
A component of bile, bilirubin is secreted by the liver into the intestinal tract. TBIL helps diagnose problems in the bile ducts.

Total Protein (TP)
The TP level can indicate a variety of conditions including dehydration and liver, kidney or gastrointestinal tract diseases.

Electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Chloride)
The balance of these chemicals is vital to blood health; abnormal levels can be life-threatening. Electrolyte tests are important in evaluating vomiting, diarrhea, and cardiac symptoms.

Gamma Globulin
Immune competence is provided by and maintained by two cellular systems that involve lymphocytes. These cells are produced by the body’s primary (bone marrow and thymus) and secondary (lymph nodes and spleen) lymphatic organs. Increased levels can be due to infections involving the whole body (systemic), cancer of the lymph nodes, bone cancer, parasites in the system or liver disease. Decreased levels indicate deficiencies in the immune system.

Thyroid function.

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