Making the Best of Wellness Exams: Cookie’s Latest Check-Up

How do you spoil your dog? Do you think that regular wellness exams qualify?

Most people love to spoil their dogs. If you want to spoil your dog in a meaningful way, don’t forget the things they can appreciate, and don’t forget wellness exams.

Making the Best of Wellness Exams: Cookie's Latest Check-Up

There are few things you can do for your dog to increase their chances of a long, quality life. Wellness exams are high on that list.

Seeing the invisible

Problems can brew under the surface without anybody being any wiser.

By the time you might see signs and symptoms, you already have a significant problem on your hands. Regular physical exam and lab work helps catch a potential disease early when it’s much easier to address and offers a substantially improved prognosis.

When my dogs reach their “middle age,” I have them typically checked twice a year.

Senior dogs should absolutely get a thorough exam that often. Young, healthy dogs, might do with once a year.

It is hard to believe that Cookie is going to be six-and-a-half-years old already. Especially with her history and breed, I am not taking any chances.

I was thrilled to find out that she is doing well.

We are still having some struggles with Cookie’s weight, but we’re working on it. We are also keeping up with her chiropractic care and physical therapy.

Other than all that, her exam and lab work confirms she is in great shape which was a great relief. Her labs also look good.

Blood testing

Curiously, it is my experience that every blood panel will come with one or two values out of whack. We had issues with Cookies ALT levels, kidney values, platelets … When that happens, one needs to figure out whether it really means something, what it might mean, and how to confirm or rule out a true problem. For example, BUN and Creatinine can be elevated because the kidneys are not happy, or simply because of dehydration.

When Cookies were high, the first thing we did was check her first-morning urine to see whether the kidneys are happy or not. The urine was perfectly normal, and the next time the values looked great. It was not such an easy journey with the ALT.

Making the Best of Wellness Exams: Blood Testing

This time, all values are calm, quiet and well-behaved. Though you can see the one red line that goes with the ALP (another of liver values) being below normal.

What does it mean when ALP is below normal? Fortunately, it means nothing at all. At least not when it happens just once. If it were a consistent finding, I’d get more insistent on figuring out why it’s happening.

Testing kidney function

It is not showing above because we had to use a different lab but we also tested SDMA. This is the newer, better kidney test which is supposed to give a more advanced warning of kidney issues. I like to do this one at least once a year. It came back looking good as well. Together with normal Creatinine and no suspicious upward trends, it’s a good reason to believe Cookie’s kidneys are in good shape.

The difference between the usefulness of SDMA over Creatinine testing is that Creatinine levels don’t get elevated until at least 75% kidney damage. That isn’t really what I’d call an advanced warning. The SDMA, on the other hand, signals kidney problems about 12 months earlier than that. At least as believed, since it’s a relatively new test. Good enough reason for me to want to have in included.

Further information: Canine Kidney Function Screening: Checking Your Dog’s Kidney Function

Infections diseases

In the spring, we also always include a test for heartworm and tick-borne diseases. I was happy to learn that all of that came back negative.

Everything is looking good so I can relax until the fall when we do all this all over again.

Related articles:
Veterinary Wellness Exams: The Secret Benefit
Dog Wellness Exams How To: What’s the Difference between Annual Exams and Wellness Exams?

Further reading:
Wellness Examination in Dogs

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