1. Your veterinarian is one of the most important people in your dog's life. You should choose your veterinarian just as you select your own doctor, by reputation and quality of service. You and your dog should feel at ease with this professional. You need to feel that you can trust your veterinarian, especially in an emergency situation.
2. Be sure that you have stated your own goals and your intentions with your dog so that your veterinarian can know what you are expecting. Your dog's health depends on your being able to work together with your vet.
3. When you have a puppy, you will be visiting your vet many times during the first year. After that, establish a routine by visiting every six months for fecal and physical examinations and once a year for a complete work up, including blood tests. Use this as a preventative measure. Dog's cannot tell you where it hurts or if they are not feeling very well. Preventative medicine can put years on your dog's life.
4. When having blood work done, make sure that your dog has fasted at least 12 hours before the test.
5. Blood work and urinalysis need to be handled very carefully. In some of the tests, there is a time factor involved.
6. Some differences in clinical chemistries exist between breeds. German Shepherd Dogs, for example, tend to be lower than other breeds in glucose, LDH, alkaline phosphatase, BUN, and uric acid. Their amylase and transaminase may be higher. Phosphorus and SGPT were found to be higher in Beagles and Labrador Retrievers.
7. Your best guide is the comparison of your own dog's test results. Establish what is normal and be sure that the tests are run always using the same laboratory.
8. If you have made the decision to change your dog's diet from commercial dog food to a natural diet, have blood drawn before you change. You should have a CBC, a chemistry screen or profile and also a fecal analysis done. One month after putting your dog on the new diet, have the same tests run. This will give you a basis for comparison. Changing to a natural diet often puts a dog who had health problems back into balance.