Understanding Blood Tests for Dogs

We understand that taking your pet for a blood test can be distressing. To alleviate your worries, our vets in Brodheadsville explain the process of blood tests for dogs.

Why is Blood Work Important for Dogs?

As a part of preventive care, blood tests can reveal the initial indications of sickness before any external signs become visible. This helps your veterinarian to identify, diagnose, and treat the illness. Early detection of diseases enables early prevention and treatment.

Routine exams of healthy pets include blood tests to establish normal baseline values for future comparison, especially as your pet gets older. If your dog exhibits symptoms, diagnostic blood tests play a crucial role in helping your vet determine the underlying cause of the symptoms.

What Do Blood Tests for Dogs Reveal?

A complete blood count (CBC) and complete blood chemistry panel, including electrolytes and urinalysis, are common tests. The CBC identifies whether there is anemia, inflammation, or infection present. It can also indicate immune system response and blood clotting ability.

The chemistry panel and electrolytes tell your vet whether your pet's liver, kidneys, and pancreas are working as they should.

This crucial laboratory work can identify and diagnose complex issues within a dog's internal systems. Blood tests for dogs can detect whether internal or environmental factors are causing hormonal-chemical responses, which can indicate a potential problem with the dog's endocrine system. This information helps veterinarians to provide appropriate treatment.

When Does My Dog Need a Blood Test?

Many different scenarios may result in your veterinarian suggesting that your dog undergo blood work, including:

  • Your pet's first vet visit (to establish baseline data and for pre-anesthetic testing before a spaying or neutering procedure)
  • Semi-annual routine exams as preventive care
  • During senior exams to, look for age-related conditions in the earliest stages
  • As pre-surgical testing to identify your dog's risk of complications during surgery
  • Before starting a new medication
  • If your dog is showing odd behaviors
  • To help assess your pet's condition during an emergency visit

How Long Does Blood Work Take at a Vet?

Thanks to our in-house lab, our vets can perform various tests and get results quickly. The tests themselves are relatively quick and can take minutes. Some tests may take somewhat longer. Your vet can provide an accurate timeframe.

What Do My Dog's Blood Test Results Mean?

At Brodheadsville Veterinary Clinic, we prioritize explaining your dog's blood tests and results to ensure that our veterinary team and pet owners can work together to treat and manage any health issues. Generally, your dog's bloodwork will consist of a complete blood count (CBC) or blood chemistry (serum test).

In cases where dogs show symptoms such as pale gums, vomiting, fever, weakness, or loss of appetite, a CBC is necessary. Dogs with diarrhea may also require blood tests. CBCs can also detect bleeding disorders or other abnormalities that may not be detected otherwise.

A CBC reveals detailed information, including:

  • Hematocrit (HCT): With this test, we can identify the percentage of red blood cells to detect hydration or anemia.
  • Hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (Hb and MCHC): These are pigments of red blood cells that carry oxygen.
  • White blood cell count (WBC): With this test, we measure the body's immune cells. Certain diseases or infections can cause WBC to increase or decrease.
  • Granulocytes and lymphocytes/monocytes (GRANS and L/M): These are specific types of white blood cells.
  • Eosinophils (EOS): These are a specific type of white blood cells that can indicate health conditions due to allergies or parasites.
  • Platelet count: (PLT): This test measures cells that form blood clots.
  • Reticulocytes (RETICS): High levels of immature red blood cells can point to regenerative anemia.
  • Fibrinogen (FIBR): We can glean important information about blood clotting from this test. High levels can indicate a dog is 30 to 40 days pregnant.

What Blood Chemistries Reveal (Blood Serum Test):

Blood chemistries, also known as blood serum tests, provide us with valuable information on a dog's organ function, including the liver, kidneys, and pancreas, as well as their hormone levels, electrolyte status, and more.

These tests are useful for assessing the overall health of older dogs, conducting general health assessments prior to anesthesia, and monitoring dogs who are on long-term medications.

Furthermore, blood chemistries are instrumental in evaluating the health of senior dogs and those exhibiting symptoms of diseases such as Addison's, diabetes, kidney diseases, toxin exposure, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Does My Dog Need Blood Tests & Lab Work?

At Brodheadsville Veterinary Clinic, our veterinarians recommend conducting blood tests and lab work as a proactive measure during your pet's annual routine exam, regardless of whether your dog appears healthy. This is because early detection of health issues enables us to treat them more effectively.

Our veterinary team prioritizes your pet's health, explains any necessary tests, and takes a preventive approach to your dog's veterinary care.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Does your pet require advanced diagnostic care or treatment? Please book an appointment with our Brodheadsville veterinarians.