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post #1 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2015, 07:56 AM Thread Starter
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Senior Blood work

Neko, my family's older cat, turns 11 years old next week. He hasn't been to the vet in several years because my parents can't afford it but now I can so I'm going to get him in soon. Given his age I feel like he should have some blood work done to make sure everything's functioning as it should be. That said, I don't really know what tests should be done. What tests do you guys think a senior cat should have done routinely?
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post #2 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2015, 08:34 AM
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Just ask for a senior blood panel, they'll know what to run. You should also do a urinalysis. I assume it's never been done, so expect to hear that he needs a dental cleaning. If you get it done within 30 days they won't have to run bloodwork again before the procedure...wait more than 30 days and they have to do it before putting him under. The bacteria from bad teeth can cause all kinds of health problems, particularly heart failure so you want to get it done if dental disease is present.


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post #3 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2015, 08:46 AM Thread Starter
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I know he needs a dental, badly, his breath is horrible. Same with my other cat. I'm just not sure about the cost, I'll have to see what their estimate is. When my uncle got his (small) dog's teeth done it was over 1500 and I'm not sure I could do that. That's more than half of what's in my bank account. Maybe my parents will help me out, but at this point they pick and choose what bills they can pay each month so they really can't spare anything.

For a urinalysis do I have to catch urine to bring to the vet or do they take it with a needle?
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post #4 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2015, 09:51 AM
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If the dental is a cleaning only, they are relatively reasonable. But the price increases with each extraction they have to do. At least that's how it is at my vets.

They can do the needle draw method for the urine, in fact that's preferred. You may have to ask for it as some will want to do a noninvasive clean catch. But the needle method will have more accurate results.


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post #5 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2015, 11:10 AM
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My vet charges $400 for a cleaning with no extractions. Since you're in MA, you're probably looking at similar prices (unless you're right near Boston). If the teeth are that bad, you're only going to end up with more vet bills for things like heart issues, so better to do it now. Look into Care Credit.


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post #6 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2015, 12:29 PM
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Both pricing and quality of care can vary considerably from vet to vet, even in the same town. Some clinics even offer wellness plans that include such things as an annual exam, vaccinations, and perhaps a dental cleaning for a reduced "package" price. So it pays to call around to all of the clinics within driving distance and ask for price estimates and information about any such package deals they may offer. You might even be able to find some of that information online for any clinics that have websites.

Once you get an idea of pricing at the various clinics, then call around to cat-loving friends, groomers, and local pet stores and see which vets they recommend and why. You should never choose a vet based on low price alone.

The routine bloodwork a senior cat should have done at least once annually should include a full chemistry, CBC, and Total T4. As doodlebug noted, a combination of those three is sometimes referred to as a "senior panel" or some other combined panel name. Such combined panels, however, will vary in the tests they provide, so ALWAYS ask exactly which blood values are included in any combined panel you are offered.

Make sure you withhold food from the cat for at least 9 hrs prior to any blood draw, as a recent meal can alter some blood values. As pricey as these tests can be, you want to make sure you're getting accurate, FASTED results. Give the cat has access to water before the blood draw, though. Do NOT withhold water.

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post #7 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2015, 12:31 PM
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My vet also gets urine with the needle draw, and once my kitties got to about 13 yrs old, I took one in every 6 months rather than every year for bloodwork (the kitty who was extremely hostile at the vet only had it done only once every year). The senior test will include a CBC, chem panel and T4 to test thyroid. I pay about around $200 for the full bloodwork. Dentals here are apparently much less expensive than in other parts of the country. They're also about $200, plus $12 per extraction.
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post #8 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-18-2015, 12:46 PM
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I forgot to mention that the other thing to keep in mind is that not all dentals are created equal. So make sure you get a breakdown of what is included when you compare prices. Some vets include x-rays, others don't. The type of anesthesia can impact prices significantly etc. There are a whole bunch of items that can impact the price by several hundred dollars. Extraction prices also vary by the tooth...one of the little tiny front teeth is going to be a lot less than a big molar.


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post #9 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-19-2015, 09:57 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
If the dental is a cleaning only, they are relatively reasonable. But the price increases with each extraction they have to do. At least that's how it is at my vets.
My guess is they'll have to pull at least some teeth. His mouth doesn't seem to bother him but it's smelled very bad for at least a few years. plus he only eats canned food so it wouldn't be that obvious if his gums were bothering him, it doesn't hurt to eat wet food.

Quote:
My vet charges $400 for a cleaning with no extractions. Since you're in MA, you're probably looking at similar prices (unless you're right near Boston). If the teeth are that bad, you're only going to end up with more vet bills for things like heart issues, so better to do it now. Look into Care Credit.
I could do that price, I just get nervous not knowing how many teeth will need to be pulled beforehand, they always seem to add more and more on by the end. I have a credit card that should be able to cover it, is care credit better than a regular credit card for some reason?


Quote:
Both pricing and quality of care can vary considerably from vet to vet, even in the same town. Some clinics even offer wellness plans that include such things as an annual exam, vaccinations, and perhaps a dental cleaning for a reduced "package" price. So it pays to call around to all of the clinics within driving distance and ask for price estimates and information about any such package deals they may offer. You might even be able to find some of that information online for any clinics that have websites.

Once you get an idea of pricing at the various clinics, then call around to cat-loving friends, groomers, and local pet stores and see which vets they recommend and why. You should never choose a vet based on low price alone.

The routine bloodwork a senior cat should have done at least once annually should include a full chemistry, CBC, and Total T4. As doodlebug noted, a combination of those three is sometimes referred to as a "senior panel" or some other combined panel name. Such combined panels, however, will vary in the tests they provide, so ALWAYS ask exactly which blood values are included in any combined panel you are offered.

Make sure you withhold food from the cat for at least 9 hrs prior to any blood draw, as a recent meal can alter some blood values. As pricey as these tests can be, you want to make sure you're getting accurate, FASTED results. Give the cat has access to water before the blood draw, though. Do NOT withhold water.
Thank you for all of that info! I am trying to pick a vet and it's so hard, you just don't know until you try them. I am looking at online reviews but who knows how reliable those are. There are two close by that I was trying to choose between (I live in Natick, MA in case anyone has recommendations). At the moment I think I'm going to go with the one that has better reviews, I think my neighbor brings her dog there too so I'll ask her about them. I'd sort of like to just stick with the vet my parents used previously (that's where my uncle brought his dog and she's had two dentals there so I feel like they're sort of safe...but they are pricey) but they owe them money so I'm not sure they'd let me bring him without paying that off first.

Quote:
My vet also gets urine with the needle draw, and once my kitties got to about 13 yrs old, I took one in every 6 months rather than every year for bloodwork (the kitty who was extremely hostile at the vet only had it done only once every year). The senior test will include a CBC, chem panel and T4 to test thyroid. I pay about around $200 for the full bloodwork. Dentals here are apparently much less expensive than in other parts of the country. They're also about $200, plus $12 per extraction.
Thank you for the info. Do you have to ask for a copy of the blood work results or do they automatically give you one? I'm going to have to see what they quote me, it seems prices vary widely from place to place.


Quote:
I forgot to mention that the other thing to keep in mind is that not all dentals are created equal. So make sure you get a breakdown of what is included when you compare prices. Some vets include x-rays, others don't. The type of anesthesia can impact prices significantly etc. There are a whole bunch of items that can impact the price by several hundred dollars. Extraction prices also vary by the tooth...one of the little tiny front teeth is going to be a lot less than a big molar.
Should I be requesting X-rays or are they unnecessary?
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post #10 of 20 (permalink) Old 08-19-2015, 11:08 AM
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[quote]
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~Siameseifuplz~ View Post
At the moment I think I'm going to go with the one that has better reviews,
That seems like a reasonable strategy, though it's important to note that a vet who's great with dogs isn't necessarily going to be great with cats. You should seek out cat owners in your area and ask them for veterinary recommendations. You can also use the following link to find a certified cat friendly clinic:

Find Veterinarians and Practices | American Association of Feline Practitioners

Quote:
Do you have to ask for a copy of the blood work results or do they automatically give you one?
I've always had to ask for copies of my animals' lab reports.

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Should I be requesting X-rays or are they unnecessary?
Dental x-rays are a very good idea because they can show problems under the gum line that are otherwise missed. Also, it's best to find a vet with some specialized dental training, as all vets are NOT created equal in terms of proficiency with dentistry. It's an expensive procedure, so you want it done by someone who really knows what they're doing and does it very well.

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