Consider age, health concerns, and more before booking an appointment with your veterinarian.

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When we adopt a pet into our home, we also adopt the responsibility of caring for that animal—this includes ensuring they receive annual checkups at the veterinarian's office. "Preventive care is critical to a pet's health in the same way that it's critical to humans: in the prevention and early diagnosis of diseases," explains Dr. Carl Winch, DVM, for Banfield Pet Hospital. "Pet owners should talk with their veterinarian about how often they should bring their pet in for comprehensive exams, including a physical exam, routine blood work, a discussion about their pet—how it's doing, whether they've noticed any changes, and so on."

And part of that preventative care includes blood testing. How often you should get your pet's blood tested will vary according to the species, breed, and age of the animal.

Kitten being held on examination table
Credit: Iuliia Alekseeva / Getty Images

What is a blood test?

Routine blood tests should be done at regular intervals as determined by your pet's veterinarian. Dr. Winch says that these routine tests can help your vet to know what's normal and healthy for your pet and serves as a baseline for future blood tests. "Pets have the ability to mask their symptoms until a disease is very progressed," he says. "Preventive routine blood tests can help give a picture of a pet's normal levels, which, in turn, can help veterinarians identify changes early or quantify how large a change may be." It could help your pet's doctor diagnose an issue.

Why blood tests are important.

A common blood test is the complete blood cell count (CBC). The number of platelets, red and white blood cells that your pet has in their blood, could reveal whether your animal companion is dealing with an infection or other health issue. For example, a low number of red blood cells would indicate anemia. And a high number of white blood cells would point to a possible infection. Then, the veterinarian would need to determine the location and severity of the infection, as well as the best course of treatment.

"Veterinarians might recommend additional monitoring depending on where the pet and owner live," Dr. Winch explains. "Because heartworm disease is present throughout the U.S., the American Heartworm Society recommends a minimum of annual testing coupled with appropriate heartworm prevention." In this case, you may need to get your pet tested for heartworm on an annual basis or semi-annual basis. It all depends on your pet's risk. This is why Dr. Winch recommends that people speak with their veterinarians to determine the best schedule for their pet's blood work. Not every animal will have the same medical needs or risks associated with them or their lifestyle. "It's important for owners to partner with their veterinarian to determine the best testing schedule and treatment options for their pet," says Dr. Winch.

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