Is bloodwork just something we recommend to make more money? I have heard that many times and read it on the internet. The most insulting incident was when a car dealer was explaining options on a vehicle and said to me, “it’s kind of like telling your client we need some bloodwork.” In his mind, a relatively useless add-on that raises the price of a car was the equivalent to running bloodwork on a patient. I think the reason it was so insulting was because bloodwork is only recommended when needed and while it does increase cost, it also adds significant value.
When we, as humans, go to the doctor and they recommend bloodwork, we typically don’t bat an eye. We don’t question them because we know they think there is a reason for it, and we often even become obsessed with waiting for the results. Obviously, most of us aren’t as concerned because insurance will cover it in most cases. So cost to the client plays a major role in the decision to allow or decline the bloodwork to be performed on a pet. However, this doesn’t make it any less important.
Bloodwork typically consists of a CBC, Chemistry, Electrolytes and possibly a T4. CBC stands for complete blood count. It is exactly what it sounds like. An analyzer counts cells as they pass by a beam of light. These cells consist of Red and White blood cells. This test can be important in detecting anemia, an infection and more serious diseases. A chemistry tells us how the organs are functioning. The kidneys, liver, biliary system, pancreas, etc. can all be assessed with this test. Finally, electrolyte imbalances and endocrine disorders can often be diagnosed with electrolytes and T4. There is also other bloodwork that may have to be sent off to a lab.
There is a common belief that if my dog is not sick I do not need bloodwork. This may be true, however, the key to early diagnosis and prevention is to detect a problem before it makes your pet sick. Almost everyone has heard, “if they had caught it sooner.” We can’t predict when a patient has early diseases if they aren’t presenting any signs. With bloodwork we can often see signs of disease long before it becomes a problem. This is why in all dogs over seven years of age, I recommend running bloodwork annually. Sometimes, once the pet is sick, it is simply too late. It is also important to check bloodwork when your pet starts or changes some medications.
A physical exam is a wonderful tool and is by far the most necessary part of a visit. But, it does not provide a complete picture of your pet’s health. Bloodwork and a physical exam are used together to provide the best possible idea of a patient’s health. For example, I may notice your pet has bad breath on physical examination. With bloodwork I would be able to determine if your pet’s bad breath is due to kidney disease or an infection in his or her mouth.
Hopefully, this article will shed some light on the reasons a vet may request bloodwork. And hopefully, it will make you as a pet owner more comfortable in discussing it with your vet. A few things to take away:
Don’t panic, as far as I know, The Simpsons is still airing and there is nothing SAH or Hill’s Pet can do about that. However, there may be a simple solution to end your canine pal’s itching and scratching. For dogs in the Southeast, atopic dermatitis is a common problem. It is very similar to allergies in humans and many of the underlying causes are even the same. The difference is that dog allergies often cause skin irritation, rather than respiratory signs.
Some of my clients have already heard of Hedges, the famous, itchy English Bulldog. For those of you who haven’t, Hedges suffered from environmental allergies from the day he was adopted by his owners. His mom and dad have been kind enough to let me share his story in the hopes of helping other itchy pets. Hedges expressed his allergies in all of the possible manifestations, and to the extreme. He was constantly suffering from chewing, scratching, hives and skin infections because of his allergies. We tried all of the conventional treatments for Hedges, including the outstanding oral medication Apoquel, which helps significantly in most pets. Hedges improved some, but continued to receive medicated baths, almost daily, and still struggled with itchy skin. Hedges’ owners and the vet were all at wits’ end with his severe condition. It became so bad that his owners considered finding a new home for Hedges because they were afraid they could not continue to keep up with the constant treatments Hedges needed, just to remain moderately comfortable.
In January Hedges came in for an appointment, and it was the same as every time Hedges came in, which was pretty much every two weeks or less. Hedges had a skin infection, was scratching and chewing constantly, had red bumps all over his skin and he was miserable. Hill’s Pet had just released a new food at the North American Veterinary Conference that same month. The new food, Derm Defense, was supposed to help dogs who battle atopic dermatitis, which is essentially itchy skin. With much skepticism, we decided to try the new food with Hedges, we all figured it can’t hurt and nothing else seemed to help much. Hedges started the food and was rechecked a couple weeks later and still had some itching and scratching but was not nearly as miserable as in the past. The understanding was that it would take up to 4 weeks for the food to be completely effective so I told the owners to just schedule a recheck as needed or when Hedges broke out again. I didn’t see Hedges again for two months. A part of me wondered if his owners were fed up and had just given up on me.
Two months later Hedges came back in. He wasn’t here for a recheck or for allergy medication and he didn’t need any emergency steroids for a breakout. Hedges was in the clinic because he just needed his 6-month heartworm preventative. Hedges was happier and more energetic than ever and had the clearest skin yet. His owners said that Hedges had not even received a medicated bath in over two weeks! Hedges made me a believer in Hill’s Derm Defense and it has since become my first line recommendation for itchy dogs.
Atopic dermatitis is very common and can make pets and their owners miserable. Until now, treatment required pharmaceuticals for severe cases. Derm Defense is simply essential fatty acid supplementation and a proprietary formula of food ingredients that heals the skin and maintains a healthy skin barrier. I honestly haven’t been prescribing it long enough to know if it works as well for every pet as it did for Hedges, but so far all of the pets on it have improved. As a food it carries less side effects than most drugs, which makes it an ideal place to start when treating skin allergies. If you have an itchy pet, I strongly consider making a diet change to see if you get the same results. So if you have a pet that you think could benefit from Hill’s Derm Defense, visit us at Satilla Animal Hospital in Waycross, GA today!
It’s almost summer time again. This means beach vacations, fireworks, and potential threats to your large and small four-legged friends. We have already covered the threat of heartworms due to mosquitoes in an earlier blog. So now that our pets are all on prevention, what other dangers lurk in the summertime? I have some information for horse owners too so scroll to the bottom of the blog if you only have ½ ton fur babies.
For small animals, summer time usually means an increase in fleas and ticks. Visiting our homepage at satillaanimalhospital.com should provide you with all you need to know about managing fleas and ticks and some of the deadly diseases they can harbor. Fleas can also prevent a problem for dogs with allergies. Flea allergic dermatitis is common in our area. This condition can be present even when you aren’t seeing fleas. When your pet has flea allergic dermatitis only one bite from a flea can send your pet into a scratching and chewing frenzy. The best solution for this is to utilize flea preventative year round to protect your pet and its environment from an infestation. Flea eggs can lay dormant for a long time and may hatch now that the weather is warming up. If your pet is on flea prevention and still struggle with fleas or flea allergies, be sure you treat the environment with and IGR. An IGR is an insect growth regulator, this means that the product kills all stages of the insect and doesn’t allow eggs or larva to hang around and create problems later. In severe cases you may need to have a professional come to your home and treat your home and yard for fleas. If you have more questions about fleas or flea allergies, come see us so that we can make sure your pet is well protected.
Another major emergence in the summertime is the increase in snake sightings. About 25% of the emergencies we see in the summertime are snake bite envenomation cases. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can put on your pet’s back and there is no pill to prevent snake bites. Snake bites from a venomous snake often carries a guarded prognosis. While there is an anti-venom available, it is very expensive. Also, while giving anti-venom is the best treatment available, there are no guarantees that it will save your pet. If dogs see a snake, they usually try to get a closer look. Your dog will probably notify you by barking. Many dogs present with snake bites to the face and neck. Cats present for snake bite less commonly, this is because many cats may not survive a snake bite and because cats tend to be more cautious when encountering a snake. This is why I encourage you to try to keep an eye on your pets while they are playing outside.
Horse owners, if you have not already vaccinated your horse this year, now is the time. I also recommend vaccinating against West Nile Virus every six months. Several of the deadliest diseases in the Southeast are carried by mosquitoes. Many of them however are preventable with vaccination. EEE, or sleeping sickness, West Nile, and WEE. These viruses all cause neurologic disease and are all carried by mosquitoes. Additionally, they are all a threat to horses and they are all a concern for horse owners in our area. The American Association of Equine Practitioners considers vaccination for these viruses, as well as Tetanus and Rabies, which means every horse should receive them every year.
So before you fire up the grill and take the cover off of the pool, make sure you remember and consider some of the dangers lurking this summer.
The internet is a very useful tool that can help us look up information that might have once taken us a lot longer. Even as a veterinarian, I use the internet daily to learn more about new products and techniques in the field. Because of this, I know first-hand how important the plethora of information on the web can be. My job also makes me aware of how dangerous, the same information can be.
It turns out that everything you read on the internet is not actually true, and rumors spread like flies at a watermelon festival in South Georgia. In fact, pretty much the first detail of the internet was a falsified rumor. Spoiler alert: Al Gore didn’t actually invent the internet.
Some of the rumors surrounding the veterinary field are harmless enough that, much like T. Swift, we just shake them off and keep moving forward. Others however can be crippling and damaging. Not only to the profession, but to our patients and clients as well. Dr. Andy Roark has a great video debunking many myths found online which can be found HERE.
Myths range from ice water causing bloat, to veterinary products causing death. I won’t and can’t list all of the many myths that can be found online, but there are infinite. My message to clients and pet owners alike, is to make sure when seeking help and advice from the internet, seek out credible sources. One great reference for pet owners is Pet Health Network.
The most significant problem with misinformation on the internet is that more and more people reiterate the same falsehood. As the message is reproduced it gains more and more reputability. This chain reaction causes many to fall into a trap of believing something that may have been posted on facebook, five years ago, as a hoax.
Many of the misinformation can be benign, but sometimes it can be detrimental to a pet’s health. Some patients die from parvo (a virus that can be prevented with appropriate vaccination), because someone somewhere decided vaccinations are evil. Others die from heartworm disease because “preventatives are a marketing ploy invented by the industry to make money” and “Trifexis kills dogs.” Dogs suffer from fleas and ticks that carry deadly diseases because “I gave my dog Bravecto and it died within 24 hours.” The list goes on and on.
The take away is to always read any of these online “ALERTS” with a certain degree of skepticism. The 5 people who read this post are evidence that anyone can read anything, written by anyone online. Your veterinarian is always your best source regarding your pet’s health. If there is truth to any of these rumors, we have probably experienced it. As a profession we have earned your trust by providing the best care we can for your beloved family members. It is never in the veterinarian’s best interest to practice medicine that is harmful to a patient. We don’t make money by selling products that harm animals. If something is recommended by your veterinarian, you can bet he or she has weighed the risks. If millions of people believe a rumor, it doesn’t make the rumor any more true.
Monday 8:00am - 5:30pm
Tuesday 8:00am - 5:30pm
Wednesday 8:00am - 5:30pm
Thursday 8:00am - 5:30pm
Friday 8:00am - 5:30pm
Saturday 9:00am - 12:00pm
511 S City Blvd
Waycross, GA 31501
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