Detecting disease early often allows your veterinarian to manage the condition before it gets out of hand. It also lowers the cost of treating it and makes your pet more comfortable. Genetic tests can tell if your puppy is unambiguous (or standard) or a carrier for many diseases. Every aspect of your dog’s development is coded into a pair of genes, one from each parent.
Puppies at Pawrade should be weighed regularly to ensure they grow appropriately and do not suffer health issues. A veterinarian should also examine them within the first few weeks of life to identify potential problems and get them on the right track. Many show breeders insist on having every puppy in their litter undergo the tests resulting in a CHIC (Canine Health Information Center) number, which prospective buyers use to check for genetic disease. This is expensive, however, and imposes unnecessary stress on the puppies and their parents. Meet all puppies in the litter, including their mothers, and watch how they interact with each other and people. They should be energetic and well-adjusted, not nervous or aggressive. They should not cower when approached or touched and be comfortable rolling over on their back for belly rubs. If they do not stay in this position, it could indicate a thyroid problem. This can be tested with an ACTH stimulation or low-dose dexamethasone suppression test.
A veterinary lab will run a comprehensive blood test to examine your pet’s organ function and how well the body is regulated. A serum biochemistry panel can cost $125-$300, depending on the scope of the tests. It may include a complete blood count (CBC), electrolyte testing, liver and kidney function, pancreatic enzymes, and more. These crucial tests look at the cell ratios in the blood, allowing your veterinarian to detect and identify abnormalities such as anemia, dehydration, certain types of cancers, blood cell counts, and platelet counts. These lab results are crucial for your pet’s long-term health and can be used to prevent and diagnose the disease early in its course. A CBC will also assess the white blood cells that fight infection and other diseases and measure the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. Serum chemistry tests will also include the kidneys, looking at the blood urea nitrogen (BUN) level, creatinine, and phosphorus to evaluate renal function. A high BUN could indicate dehydration, kidney or gastrointestinal disease, and low phosphorus indicates a lack of protein.
Your family doctor looks at your eyes during regular checkups, but your pet’s eyes need specialized attention from a veterinary ophthalmologist. A yearly exam checks for signs of several issues, including inflammation inside the eye (uveitis), cataracts, and retinal thinning. Eye exams can also reveal systemic health issues. For example, low tear production can indicate dry eye disease, while high pressure inside the eye (glaucoma) may be caused by high blood pressure. Your veterinary ophthalmologist uses a light and lens to examine the transparent front part of your pet’s eyes. The pupil may be dilated with drops to allow closer observation. She may use a fluorescent green stain to evaluate the cornea for ulcers or abnormalities. She will test for reflexes, like a menace response, to hand gestures, object motion, and bright lights and assess visual navigation skills. A veterinary ophthalmologist can identify hereditary eye conditions that can cause blindness or other serious problems. Many of these diseases are preventable with proper care and treatment. By identifying these hereditary conditions, breeders can focus on preventing them and take proactive measures to minimize their impact on the dogs they raise.
Most dogs won’t show any apparent symptoms, but a thorough exam from a veterinarian can reveal conditions that aren’t as noticeable. For example, a heart exam can catch an issue like dilated cardiomyopathy, in which the dog’s heart becomes too big to pump blood effectively. DNA tests can identify a puppy’s genetic risk for many diseases. Often, however, hereditary diseases have no reliable screening test available. In such cases, even well-intentioned breeders cannot avoid mating affected parents. But having average phenotypic test results in the parents can still significantly increase a puppy’s chances of being healthy. This is especially important because many hereditary conditions are inherited early in life. For instance, dilated cardiomyopathy can develop as soon as a puppy’s first mosquito bite. This is why protecting dogs from mosquitoes is critical when they’re young.
Dental disease is among pet dogs and cats’ most common health issues. Just like people, pets can develop plaque and tartar that leads to inflammation of the gums and structures that hold teeth in place and causes bad breath (vets call it halitosis). When this inflammation spreads from the mouth into the bloodstream, it can cause damage to other organs, including the heart, kidney, and liver. Screening for dental problems allows veterinarians to treat these issues early, often before the pet shows any visible signs of disease.
These proactive measures reduce the severity of a condition, prevent complications and improve overall pet health and quality of life. During dental screening, a veterinarian examines each tooth in a dog’s mouth and looks for red or brown spots and resorption of the roots of the teeth. Radiographs may also be taken to evaluate the integrity of the teeth and surrounding bone. Dental procedures are usually performed under anesthesia to ensure the dog does not move or bite during the examination. This is safer for the dog and prevents injury to a dog that does not understand why it is being treated.