Wellness Exams: Cookie's Latest Check-Up

Most people love to spoil their dogs. This can be done in many different ways. But if you want to spoil your dog in a meaningful way, don't forget the things they can actually appreciate and don't forget wellness exams.

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.

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 her 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 a great shape which was a great relief. Her labs also look good.

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 easy journey with the ALT.

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.

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.

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.

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Do you know what your dog is telling you about their health?

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Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is an award-winning guide to help you better understand what your dog is telling you about their health and how to best advocate for them. 

Learn how to see and how to think about changes in your dog’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Some signs that might not trigger your concern can be important indicators that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Other symptoms, while hard to miss, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, are easy to spot but can have a laundry list of potential causes, some of them serious or even life-threatening. 

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is a dog health advocacy guide 101. It covers a variety of common symptoms, including when each of them might be an emergency. 

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