View Full Version : How often is bloodwork necessary?

4th May 2007, 03:21 PM
I am wondering what the recommended time frame for wellness exams are??

Last night I took Kosmo to the vet for his yearly annual and it ended up costing me $300 :yikes :yikes I nearly fell over dead!

He got:

his consultation (which his heart and knees are healthy - YAY!)
rabies vaccine
fecal test
wellness blood test
flea medication
eye ointment

He didn't get his combo yet because last year he had the runs and vomiting after his combo/rabies and the vet felt it was best to do them at 2 seperate intervals. He seems fine although he did have the runs this morning. (who knows what that's from though!)

When he got his rabies the vet started laughing and said he acted just like Kodee. He cried for like a minutes straight. icon_blshing She said it must be the "King Charles" in him.. LOL What's even funnier is that when they took him to take the blood he didn't make a peep!! He was putting on a show becaues mommy was there!!!

So is a fecal test really necessary to do every year? I know it checks for all sorts of things, but if you don't think there is a problem, is it really necessary?

How about a blood test? They are telling me I "should" get one every year but I think that might be too often in a youngin. I can see when he turns about 7 or so to do it every year but should I be doing it every year anyways?

Heart worm tests are pretty well done every year around here regardless so I won't mess with that one.

I got him sentinel - the pill form of flea medication this time. I don't want to deal with topical flea treatment this year - I didnt like the smell, the look, or how kosmo ran around rubbing on the couch crying for an hour afterwards. . it turned me off big time..

He had to get eye ointment becaues apparently the eye discharge that he puts out is coming in contact with his skin and burning it! :( I asked her how come he's always "scratching underneath his eyes" and she said that his eye discharge is actually causing lesions under there.. It's raw skin and not a huge patch but I feel awful. http://www.ckcsboard.com/messageboard/images/smiles/icon_sad.gif I was going to put some neosporin on there but she told me it's better I get this stuff because neosporin is not meant for anywhere near eyes. It's called BNPH ~ anybody ever heard of it ? I am also instructed to wipe under his eyes several times a day for the next two weeks.. I hope his hair down there starts growing back sometime soon.

Regarding his weight - she said he was just very dainty and lean with a small bone structure. He's thin, but not unhealthy thin. She said that it's better for him to be thin than fat and as long as he doesn't lose more then he will be fine. :)

Anyways any opinions are appreciated!! :)

4th May 2007, 04:37 PM
Wow, that was alot of money, I can understand why you nearly fell over dead. When I bring Prince for his yearly booster I just get him checked over, my vet has never even mentioned blood tests or fecal tests. I have had to bring him a couple of times over discharge from his eyes and I got drops for that which sorted it out. His eyes weep every now and again but I just clean them with warm water on tissue. You have me wondering now should he be getting a more thorough examination :eek:

Cathy Moon
4th May 2007, 04:53 PM
I have the heartworm blood test done every Feb-March on my 3 before they begin their heartworm meds in April.

Then they get their bloodwork done before a general anesthetic, like when they have their dental cleaning & exam. The first one is before they are spay-neutered, and this serves as a baseline.

I wouldn't have bloodwork done at any other time, unless one of them is ever sick and the vet recommends it to help with diagnosis, etc.

Usually I am shocked at how much the Frontline Plus Flea and Tick monthly treatments cost for 3 dogs, but I don't mind paying for it that much, as we are then worry free!

Whoops - forgot your first question - they get a wellness exam annually when they go in for vaccinations.

5th May 2007, 01:07 AM
Wow! I know that things are managed in different ways in different countries. Here in Australia when we take our dogs to the vets for their boosters & their checkup, no blood is taken. It is just the shot & a physical exam, unless there is a problem.

We do however use heartworm preventative all year round so it would only be those dogs that have been missing their dose that would get blood taken to check the presence of heartworm.

Same thing with intestinal worms. We routinely worm every 3 months.

Then for those of us that use tick/flea preventative, again this is ongoing because the paralysis tick is around pretty well all year along the east coast of Australia.

Usually I am shocked at how much the Frontline Plus Flea and Tick monthly treatments cost for 3 dogs

Cathy, I buy the giant-breed sized Frontline pipettes & draw up the correct amount into a syringe. I can get 6 doses out of one giant pipette :D and that makes the cost about 1/4 of what you would normally pay.

5th May 2007, 01:42 AM
Just like Kodee...:rolleyes: except Kodee was reversed! She didnt mind her vaccinations/rabies but she squeeled at her blood test! She took it Princess all the way and sulked in my arms after. The vet had to kiss and make up - but you noticed how good she is at that! I love her no rush attitude with lots of breaks to hug and kiss them!

Hmm your bill seems much higher but then mine were all split out since we were doing the 2 visits with shots. I didnt do the bloodwork every yr with our lab but did do the heartworm. When Kodee had her wellness I didnt think it was too outrageous - due to food industry issues, I think I will most likely get it for the first 3 yrs then as need be till she is gets towards the senior years. That is assuming all is well, weight gain, energy, coat and THE FOOD INDUSTRY SMARTENS UP. We did the fecal when our lab was out and about in the country as she was often loose, but as she aged and didnt stray we stopped it.

Well 300 is alot at once but the good part would be your confident his weight is healthy, you know his heart/knees, bloodwork, stool are good so you can relax and enjoy for another yr worry free!

5th May 2007, 11:11 AM
Interdesting to see how different vets can be by locale/country, as Caraline says! Why are your vets doing blood tests as a regular thing (eg why do they say they should be tested annually?) -- was this just for heartworm or a general check? I have never heard of this unless there's a specific health issue of concern or before the dog is having surgery. Though if it is tied to heartworm, perhaps, but still, if you are treating and haven't missed a treatment is there really still such a high risk of heartworm that you need to do blood tests as well (maybe this varies by location)? That's what I'd want to ask the vet. We don't have heartworm or rabies here so don't need to give the dogs anything for those but I hadn't heard before of vets doing blood tests annually as well as the usual heartworm preventatives.

I never do fecal exams or anything like that as a norm and the vets have never suggested it.

To me, overall, this all seems a bit over the top but I suppose it keeps you on top of all sorts of issues just in case they happen? It then comes down to what people feel they want to do.

To be honest though sounds to me like a nice but probably unecessary way of padding the vet's pocket, with little demonstrated need when there's no indication of a problem that needs investigating.

By the way regarding this:

She said it must be the "King Charles" in him

It really annoys me that vets say this and fail to see there may be a cause and effect when an *entire breed* is known for this. A lot of people now think this is a seriously worrying issue in the breed that it so routinely cries out at injections to draw vet comment. :( Just wondering, were these injections done in the neck or thigh? The general recommendation from neurologists is to always have CKCS injections done in the thigh to lower the chance of pain due to CM/SM as the neck/shoulder area is potentially very painful to have injected, though they can also be sensitive elsewhere. Many neurologists also feel that CM/SM is the reason this breed routinely will feel pain when others don't. It is worth pointing this out to vets who may not be aware. With my own dogs since I switched from neck/back injections to thighs the crying has stopped, though as Leo now seems to be bothered by his hind legs sometimes, I don;t know if this will continue to be the case.

For anyone who wants to see the difference between a normal skull in a different breed, wth normal room for the brain, and what is happening with cavaliers and why they are likely to be extra senssitive around head/neck/shoulders and thus to injections, this primer on MRIs from Laura Lang is very informative. I highly recommend giving the link to vets:


5th May 2007, 11:50 AM
Golly! That is steep! Over here in the UK, well at my own vets to be more specific, they are given a thorough check over, heart, eyes, teeth, weight checked, general health observations, but I have never had a vet run a blood test, or propose a fecal test either!
Luckily we have less risk of heart worm , and we only have the rabies vaccine done if needed for the pet passport scheme if planning to travel abroad.
My dogs are also checked annually by my cardiologist, although my vet is good, I prefer to have the cardiologists opinion too, happily my vet works with me and understands Cavaliers, he asks me if there has been any change in the CM/SM research, and I have now referred him to your SM website Karlin. I am happy with this vet, he is a senior partner but is very open to any new research progress being made in his profession and has not written Cavaliers off as being a breed with bad hearts! Refreshing eh?

5th May 2007, 12:20 PM
The bloodwork he got was called a routine wellness blood exam. It does the whole panel from kidneys to blood cell count.. just like before a surgery. I think the point of that is because then they know what your dogs levels are.. if they switch from year to ear it's easier to detect changes like cancer that you may not know about, etc.

As far as the heartworm testing goes, vets here won't even sell you flea preventative unless you have the heartworm check done. I guess it must happen alot?? Although I don't know why if your dog is on proper anti-heatworm medication??

The fecal testing is also just to make sure, I guess. I think next year I may pass on that. If Kosmo had worms I would surely know it, right?? I dont mean to be gross, but I do go through his poop a a few times a week just to make sure there's nothing in there that shouldn't be there. Also the flea medications help to prevent internal parasites (worms) so I don't know how necessary that is.

Regarding the vaccinations, beleive it or not it was given to him in his thigh! I've always requested vets not to use their neck because of potential SM/chairi like malformations. I haven't ever MRId them - never had a reason to - but it's better to be safe than sorry. I think she may have just stuck him in a place that didn't have a lot of fat on it on his hind leg. He's very very lean and doesn't have much fat so maybe that's why it hurt him so much?? Last year before his neuter when he got his bloodwork done he cried before they even gave him the shot. When they put that rubber band around his arm - he cried. When they put the alcohol on his leg - he cried.. :o But this year apparently he didn't make a sound.

I got his records faxed to me since I got to claim the eye ointment on insurance and I guess I am glad I got his bloodwork checked because there is "anemic" written all over his charts. :confused: I never felt he was anemic so I never brought him back in for further testing, but apparently the vet thought so.. :confused: So I guess I'll find out today what she has to say :cool:

Cathy Moon
5th May 2007, 02:51 PM
Our vets prefer to do bloodwork before a general anesthesia, and I've always opted to have it done. It helps to reduce the risks by identifying unknown problems before anesthetizing the dog.

Also, Therapy Dog International requires an annual fecal exam in order to renew the TDI dog's certificate. This is required for the TDI insurance.

5th May 2007, 03:23 PM
My vet explained that a wellness blood test was to determine the normal numbers of that particular dog. Before old age-- so if they do one when he's sick (or old), you can compare what is well normal for that particular dog. When you are ill -- your numbers can go haywire- even thyroid numbers can be distorted. He likes to do them once when a dog is 4-5 years old.

It is funny-- on the antech lab readout, they now admit that cavaliers thrombocytes (platelets) can be larger than normal and fewer in number and still be fine. :rah:

5th May 2007, 03:52 PM
I often visist the veterenary, because we visist Sweden every month
My dogs never get fecal tests and I can´t see it is necessary to tjeck blodsampels if the dog´s feeling well!! I don´t tjeck my blood every yeaR!
My oldest dog have some problems with his back, so visist a kiroprakter about 4 times a year and that is also ekspensive......

6th May 2007, 02:32 AM
Interesting, I guess from the reviews things do differ depending on country or area. I have owned dogs for 35 yrs, and 4 different vets I have used have always maintained this in the GTA Toronto area (my family members vets as well). My 4 vets have suggested it, but not demanded it. They simple give it as an option (as people we have an annual physical with blood work up - its how I found anemia 4 times, development of high cholesterol and blood in urine over the yrs - all with out symptoms) to ensure a window view of your pets health. Sometimes I do it (young pets I do for 2 or 3 yrs and very senior pets once or twice again). For fecal tests mostly I opt not to as my pets are in a controlled environment. But when Jessie was young and had the opportunity to run a family farm on occassion we did it the odd time as she got into so much (i.e. veg garden, cattle fields) upset tummy's did happen.

There is no right or wrong in opting not to or doing, but a good vet will provide the info for you to make the choice in a non-pressure way. Kodee is new, I am not familar with her habits etc.. I will opt to do it at her annual next yr for sure. Possibly at 2 or 3 yrs and then if she is obviously a healthy lil' lass, stop till she enters senior yrs and shows obvious signs of aging.

6th May 2007, 03:10 AM
I wouldn't do blood work unless a general anaesthetic was being used or if the doggie was ill.

When "tests" are suggested to me, I always ask "why", if the answer isn't going to "solve" a problem, I don't bother.

We've used the same vet for over 30 years and we both know I'd rather keep cash in my own wallet unless necessary. ;)

7th May 2007, 12:41 AM
I think you already know how I feel, huh? I think that a baseline blood test is a good idea, but don't think that doing it yearly is necessary UNLESS you are doing a dental yearly then I would definately go with the pre-anesthetic blood work.

You can't always determine the presence of intestinal parasites with the naked eye. A fecal exam is done to look at the sample under a microscope to check for eggs (or larvae). The exam is done one of two ways, either by smearing the poop directly onto a slide and looking at it or by mixing the poop with a saline solution, putting a filter in the mixture, then putting the slide on top of that. After about 5 minutes the slide is checked.

A heartworm test is also done either directly (a drop of blood on a slide) or with a test kit. In the situations I've been in, the test kit is used first and if it shows positive then you want to do a direct test. (It's not a good feeling to find the live heartworms on the direct test, but it is fascinating!)

Cathy, I'm surprised that your dogs aren't on heartworm preventative year 'round in Ohio. In KY we always used it year 'round because of the life cycle of the heartworm and mosquito. But I don't remember what part of Ohio you are in.......

Sara, the ointment you were given sounds like an antibiotic based ointment. Unless they have covered all the writing with a label, you should be able to get a magnifying glass (the writing is SMALL!) and read words like "bacitracin" and "neomycin" and "polymycin", etc. (can't think what the "H" might be).

Two of my group had yearly vx done while we were gone. You've made me look at my receipt to see what they did! (When the bill was either $700 or $900 - don't remember which - I didn't even want to look! I just considered it about half a Cavalier I had spent!) Okay, here it is. Wallis and Sasha both got their yearly exam, Adult DHP/Parvo, Rabies, Occult HW, fecal exam and kennel cough vx. Wallis also had another chest x-ray because she has been coughing and Tibby had to be treated for a hotspot.

7th May 2007, 12:58 AM
Oh crittercall, I love your medical background! It makes it all so much easier when you explain it! Hmm so maybe I got sapped into a few fecal bucks - but we are talking maybe 3x in 15 yrs at $30 so no big deal. You reminded me why I want to occassionally do the blood work to check the baseline maybe in 1st yr or 2 then again at 7 or so.

7th May 2007, 01:07 AM
Debbie - I just looked at the length of my response (not even reading it) and I was embarassed. I hate to get on my soapbox - but when it comes to our critters and their health I just can't seem to help it!

Thank you for saying that I help you understand it better. That increases my feeling of self-worth. I like to understand everything that is going on and I want to try to help you see that the vet isn't always just out to make a buck. Sometimes there really is a medical reason for it!

7th May 2007, 04:40 AM
Debbie - I just looked at the length of my response (not even reading it) and I was embarassed. I hate to get on my soapboxNo one on a board should be embarrassed to get on their soap box. Its good to give each of our perspectives. I have read posts where I totally disagree and opt to handle matters differently - only to later go back read it again, and take something from it. Change is good, options are good and openness is good. If life had only one rule book the days would be pretty boring!

7th May 2007, 02:04 PM
Thanks for your response Critter. It's good to know that they have an "atual reasoning" for everything that they did. I don't feel that they did it just to dupe me out of $$, but I don't feel like it's all completely necessary every year either. I will continue to get yearly heart worm checks, i think those are very important. Other than that maybe every other year or third year we'll do the blood work, does that sound bad?

I am sure the eye ointment is for antibiotics too. I think it's to treat the lesions and raw skin under his eyes. I felt like a horrible mommy for that. Here I was thinking he was just scratching underneath there.

The good news is that his blood work came back great and his teeth/heart/knees were fantastic :hug: The lady that examined him was the nicest vet I've ever seen too.. well except for my "home town" vet that I've grown up with, but you can't really compare to that.

Also I still have to remember that that $300 included $100 of flea/heartworm treatments for the year.

I also understand better with your explanations critter :) so thanks!

7th May 2007, 04:48 PM
Glad that I could be of some use. I was discussing this with my friend later last night on the phone and she had similar questions, such as why did her dogs need fecal exams when they are primarily house dogs and if they are out they are in a fenced yard. She hadn't considered the fact that she lives in the middle of a wooded area and that any kind of wildlife could come into her back yard, poop, her dogs could get into it and voila! worms!

I'm pretty disgusted with the way Wallis came home from boarding. She's healthy, that's no problem. But she is covered with flea dirt and we have removed 5 ticks from her between last night and this morning. The ticks she could have picked up in our backyard - only a couple of them were attached - but she had a bath on Friday and there is no way she should have that much flea dirt so soon after a bath. Also, whoever did the bathing didn't seem to do much brushing. I've mentioned what thick hair she has on her chest (we always refer to her as being "bosom-y") and it's full of matts now. I told the vet about it this a.m.; said that I wasn't bitching but that he needed to know about it.

Just one more thing in a long list!

Joanne M
7th May 2007, 08:44 PM
Tucker had his annual check-up in September 2006. Hopefully you know the currency exchange rate better than I do. The total cost was $236.64. Breakdown of Services:

Wellness Exam.....................47.78
EhrlAb,LymeAb,HWA Tests.....41.56
DHPP y1.............................15.81
Stool Specimen....................19.66
3 yr Rabies Vac....................14.77
6 mo supply Heartworm Prev...28.41
3 mo supply Frontline Plus......45.30 (did I really pay that much for it!)
Lyme Disease Vac ................19.66
Tax .....................................3.69

7th May 2007, 09:17 PM
Kinda freaks me out that they charge $20 for a fecal. YEARS ago when I first started work it was $5!!! Don't times change.

8th May 2007, 02:32 PM
You definately got a bit more things done Joanne. :) I cant' believe it's so bleepin expensive for everything.. It's kind of mind blowing to look back at that kind of stuff, isnt it!!

Critter - you were around when fecals cost $5? Then were you around when an ice cream cone cost 5 cents? :lol::lol::lol:

8th May 2007, 04:37 PM
We couldn't afford ice cream cones, Sara. Actually, I don't remember how much ice cream was, but I do remember buying gas for my VW Bug and filling up the tank for 25 cents!!

Say it loud, I'm old and I'm proud!! I have survived!!

9th May 2007, 09:55 PM
If the vet says he's doing a 'wellness screen' to determine what's normal for the dog before they get sick or old they are pulling a fast one. It's the same for humans, there are normal limits for health which the lab will provide for any blood test and the individual dogs results will be compared against these. They do not need to determine this for every dog, in fact the dog might not even be genuinely healthy at this point so what can they then compare against? Unfortunately most vets know very little about the science and rationale behind pathology testing, to be fair they are GPs and even human GPs are often found wanting in this area of knowledge. No self respecting lab would provide a test without a reference interval for a healthy population unless it was a novel research parameter. Admittedly there is always the exception such as the platelet issue in cavs which can be overcome with a one off baseline test but in reality unless the dog is symptomatic or bleeding then it would be reasonable to assume a congenital thrombcytopenia if a low platelet count is an incidental finding. It is useful to know if the platelet count was previously normal but not essential for a differential diagnosis.

I have heard of lungworm (on this forum) being an incidental finding of a routine faecal....priceless in my opinion and my Oscar gets at least monthly faecals for lungworm.

10th May 2007, 04:30 AM
Lisa, you must have sensed my soap box coming out before you metioned the platelet count in Cavaliers! Because of my experience with Wallis that is something that I would suggest having checked on the breed; otherwise my background taught me to encourage people to have blood work done as pre-surgical until the animal is geriatric, at which time we suggested yearly checks. I envy your education in this area. (I still have all the results here to copy and send to you; I just haven't been at home to do it!)

I respect your vigilance regarding the lungworm, too. The fecal exam required nothing more than taking a small sample of poop to your vet, so it isn't doing anything invasive or potentially harmful to the dog.

Speaking of the bleeding, we are suddenly having trouble with ticks. And of course more are getting on Wallis than on the other two dogs. We found 5 on her over 2 days time. I thought I had another one but upon further investigation (fingernails and reading glasses) I realized that I had scraped the top off a scab and made it start bleeding. You can believe I kept an eye on her to make sure it stopped fairly quickly!:lpy:

10th May 2007, 07:22 PM
Ah Donna, how we love our platelets! If the bleeding after a scab scratching stopped quickly that's a great sign of good primary haemostasis (blood clotting) in which platelets are a major player. Excellent sign that even if they are in lower numbers they are still doing one of their major jobs:rah:
Occasionally I get to inflict a cut on a patient and time how long the bleeding takes to stop....I'm such a popular girl when I explain that to them.

11th May 2007, 04:17 AM
I have heard that the pharmaceutical industry is coming out with a machine to check clotting time at home, somewhat like checking the sugar level in blood. But I almost think I'd rather have a needle stuck in me than try to stick myself!!

11th May 2007, 06:58 PM
There is already one Donna http://www.coaguchek.com/landing/ it has a pen like retractable piercer, it doesn't really hurt much at all and is a very reliable machine as long as you can get your lab to compare results with it once in a while for a quality control check