Since joining the general practice team, I have performed many annual wellness exams. At each, I recommend annual bloodwork to detect early signs of disease or to have a baseline for the pet for future reference. I recently saw Zoey, a four-year-old female Shih Tzu for her wellness exam. Since Zoey was adopted from a shelter, she had already been spayed and had not had baseline bloodwork. She was a very sweet, happy dog and had not given her owners any need to be concerned about an illness. During her exam, her owners gave us a full history with no known toxin exposure, no changes in her urination, drinking, appetite, or weight. Her owners agreed to have baseline bloodwork run to ensure there were no underlying issues that we could not find on physical exam. After running the bloodwork, it was discovered that Zoey’s creatinine levels were at 4.0, which, unfortunately, is consistent with stage 3 chronic kidney disease.
Kidney disease can show up over a longer period of time, sometimes making it difficult to catch it at an early stage. After discussing the results with Zoey’s owner, we decided that the best plan of attack would be to hospitalize her for a few days on IV fluids to help her creatinine levels go down to at least 3.0. We performed an abdominal ultrasound, confirming that the changes in Zoey’s kidneys were most likely due to a congenital disease from birth. We changed Zoey’s diet to a kidney formula as well as adding daily supplements. Our team of certified veterinary technicians taught Zoey’s owners how to give subcutaneous fluids at home, which would allow her to receive supplemental fluids. Subcutaneous fluids can assist pets with a variety of medical conditions, including kidney diseases.
Regular monitoring was also discussed with Zoey’s owners so that they could inform us of any changes in her behavior. Following Zoey’s hospitalization and treatment, her kidney values remained stable, and she continued to maintain her happy and healthy self at home. We are happy that we were able to catch her kidney disease before she was in end-stage failure when management would not have been as effective.
It is important to stay current on your pet’s annual wellness exams to help catch any underlying health issues as early as possible. Early detection helps us manage any disease more effectively. We recommended that senior pets be seen every 6 months instead of annually since the older the pet, the more health issues arise and can occur more rapidly.
Written by Dr. Laura Williams