Regular wellness screenings are an important part of pet preventive health, and they help our veterinarians detect underlying diseases before your pet shows outward illness signs. Our Scripps Ranch Veterinary Hospital team offers some case examples that will help explain how your pet can benefit from these proactive visits.

Case #1: Leo, a 4-year-old Doberman pinscher, visited our veterinary practice for a routine wellness screening. His owner reported that his appetite was excellent, and he was extremely active. Leo’s temperature, pulse, and respiration rate (TPR) were normal, and he appeared in good body condition. However, when our team auscultated Leo’s chest, they appreciated a heart murmur. Further diagnostics revealed that Leo had dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), and we put him on medications to help slow disease progression. No cure exists for DCM, but dogs who are put on heart medications before they develop clinical signs have a much better prognosis. 

Other conditions that we can detect during a physical examination performed at a routine wellness screening include:

  • Cataracts — Cataracts occur when the eye lens becomes progressively opaque. Pets tend to acclimate well to gradual vision loss, and pet owners may not realize their pet is affected until their eyes are examined during a wellness screening.
  • Dental disease — Most pets develop some degree of dental disease by 3 years of age. Complications include bad breath, bleeding, sensitive gums, loose and missing teeth, and tooth root abscesses. In addition, the causative bacteria can enter your pet’s bloodstream and damage organs throughout their body.
  • Abdominal masses — We palpate your pet’s abdomen during a wellness screening and can detect any palpable abnormalities.
  • Arthritis — Arthritis is a common problem that causes pain and affects mobility in pets. Our veterinary team carefully evaluates your pet’s gait and joints to determine if their joints are painful.

Case #2: Lucy, a 10-year-old domestic shorthair (DSH) cat, was brought in for a routine wellness screening. Lucy’s owner reported that she was eating well, and acting normally. Except for being slightly overweight, Lucy’s physical examination was unremarkable. Our veterinary team performed routine screening blood work, including a complete blood count (CBC) and a biochemistry profile that revealed elevated kidney enzymes, indicating early stage chronic kidney disease (CKD). We placed Lucy on a prescription renal diet, and instructed her owner on administering subcutaneous fluids to keep her hydrated. When caught in the early stages and aggressively treated, pets with CKD can live many happy years.

Other conditions that blood work performed during a routine wellness screening can detect include:

  • Diabetes — Diabetes impairs the body’s ability to produce or respond to insulin. If not managed properly, complications can include cataracts, chronic or recurring infections, ketoacidosis, and possible kidney disease.
  • Anemia — A CBC assesses your pet’s red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, and can detect conditions such as anemia.
  • Liver disease — If not caught and treated appropriately, liver disease can result in complications such as gastrointestinal upset, blood clotting abnormalities, and neurological problems.
  • Cancer — Screening blood work can reveal abnormalities that may indicate certain cancers and that further diagnostics are required. 

Case #3: Sidney, a 5-year-old Siamese cat, presented for a routine wellness screening. His owner said he had a voracious appetite, and reported no behavior changes since his last wellness visit a year ago. Sidney’s physical examination was unremarkable, and his blood work was all within normal limits. Our veterinary team performed a urinalysis, another normal part of a routine wellness screening, and discovered struvite crystals. Further diagnostics revealed that Sidney had struvite bladder stones that, left untreated, could enter the urethra and cause a life-threatening urethral blockage. Sidney was switched to a specially formulated prescription diet to help dissolve the stones.

Other conditions that can be detected by a routine wellness screening urinalysis include:

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)  — Our veterinary team evaluates your pet’s urine to detect pathogens that may cause a UTI. 
  • Dehydration — We assess the urine’s concentration, and can determine if your pet is dehydrated.
  • Kidney disease — Abnormalities on your pet’s urinalysis can indicate kidney disease. 

Case #4: Rover, a 2-year-old Labrador retriever, visited our practice for a routine wellness screening. His owner reported that Rover’s appetite and activity level were normal, and he had no abnormalities. Rover’s physical examination, blood work, and urinalysis were all within normal limits, but a fecal check revealed coccidiosis. While coccidiosis typically doesn’t cause health problems for healthy adult dogs, the parasite can be passed to other animals and in some cases, to people. Rover was placed on an appropriate medication to eliminate the parasite and prevent infection spread.

Other parasites that can be detected during a routine wellness screening fecal check include:

  • Roundworms
  • Whipworms
  • Hookworms
  • Giardia

Regular wellness screenings are the best way to detect underlying health conditions in pets before they show clinical signs. If you would like to schedule a wellness screening for your pet, contact our Scripps Ranch Veterinary Hospital team, so we can perform the necessary diagnostics to ensure they are as healthy as possible.