Animals are very special patients with difficulties in communicating early illnesses. Even for pet owners that live together with the animal, and pay close attention to their behavior, it can be difficult to detect irregularities. To ensure the well-being and a long, healthy life for the animal, health check-ups are therefore recommended.
A health check-up is often initiated by a health exam, where the veterinarian performs a physical examination, auscultation (listening to chest), and palpation (feeling through the body). Depending on the outcome of the health exam, health screening tests might be recommended.
The health screening includes estimation of blood status by a complete blood count (CBC) and a biochemistry profile to assess the function and status of major organs and tissues in the animal.
The CBC will give information about the oxygen-carrying cells (RBC), the immune-related cells (WBC) and the platelets that acts in clotting of the blood. The counting and size determination of these cells can provide indications of illnesses such as anemia, infections, allergies and even certain cancers, such as leukemia.
The biochemistry profile focuses on markers of function for the major organs, such as the liver and kidney, but also often includes electrolytes and sometimes hormones for thyroid and pancreatic assessment.
In summary, hematology count and clinical chemistry are great complimentary tools for the general assessment of a patient’s health.