Your veterinarian suggests bloodwork for your cat, but why is it necessary? What valuable information can it provide about your furry friend's health, and how often should you schedule these tests? Our vets in Brodheadsville explain.
Why does my cat need bloodwork?
Many cat owners wonder why their cat needs blood tests and other diagnostic checks. After all, if an animal seems healthy, why pay the extra expense?
However, these blood tests are crucial for your cat's well-being. They provide important information about your cat's health. For some procedures, like dental surgery, a blood test is needed to make sure your cat is healthy enough for the operation.
The role bloodwork can play in your cat's care cannot be overstated. In our diagnostic lab at Brodheadsville Veterinary Clinic, our team of professionals can perform a range of common and specialized blood tests to assess your cat's health and monitor and diagnose illnesses, including conditions ranging from tick-borne diseases to cancer.
What tests are performed when bloodwork is done?
Cat's owners think all blood tests are the same, but that's not true. Talk to your vet to find out which tests your cat needs and why. They'll explain your cat's condition and what these tests can tell us in simple terms.
Some of the most common veterinary blood tests performed are CBC (Complete Blood Count) and a serum chemistry panel. Each test provides us with different but complementary information.
With a CBC, we can measure a patient's white blood cell count, red blood cell count, and platelet count. We can also usually obtain some data about the size and shape of red and white blood cells.
The chemistry panel checks organ functions like the kidneys and liver, as well as electrolytes and enzymes in the blood. Our vet lab has advanced tools to diagnose your cat's problems accurately.
Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial when your cat is sick or their health changes quickly. Our skilled team and advanced equipment help us assess your cat's health and offer treatment options quickly.
What will my vet learn from bloodwork for cats?
What insights we're able to gain into your cat's health depends on the type of bloodwork ordered. For example, we can order a variety of CBC and chemistry panels that can bring us different data depending on what we need to measure and what we are hoping to learn about your cat's health.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
Different types of white blood cells respond uniquely to threats that the immune system encounters. A CBC can be used by the vet to determine the total number of white blood cells in your cat's blood sample, as well as the number of each type of white blood cell. Red blood cells (RBCs) transport oxygen to all of the body's tissues. A CBC counts the RBCs in your cat's blood and determines how well they transport oxygen based on the levels of hemoglobin (an oxygen-carrying protein) in your cat's blood.
Platelets are essential for blood clotting. If your cat doesn't have enough platelets, their blood may clot slowly, leading to abnormal or excessive bleeding. A CBC will count how many platelets are in your cat's blood.
For example, we can request a routine CBC, which provides numerical values associated with cell counts in samples obtained from a diagnostic machine. A CBC with pathology review will be sent to a clinical pathologist, who will examine a blood sample under a microscope to ensure the counts provided by the machine are accurate. They can also tell if there are any abnormal cells (damage to cells can indicate leukemia, infections, anemia, poisoning, parasites, or other serious health problems).
Bloodwork is done before surgery to detect low platelet levels because platelets are crucial in preventing excessive bleeding. If platelet levels are low, it could also suggest severe infections (like tick-borne illnesses) or life-threatening diseases.
Blood Chemistry Profile
We can discover a lot about the substances in your cat's blood with a blood chemistry profile. This test can help us understand how well your cat's kidneys are working. It can also show if there are issues with the kidney system, dehydration, or obstructions.
The liver plays an important role in your cat's health, and elevated chemical values here could indicate liver disease or abnormalities in other organs. This test can also reveal any abnormal electrolyte levels, which can be related to illnesses and conditions such as seizures, gastrointestinal disease, and others.
Your cat's blood protein levels are also important. Some proteins help the immune system, while others assist with blood clotting. The blood chemistry profile can tell us about the overall protein levels, albumin levels, and globulin levels.
Despite the many things we can learn from bloodwork, the results rarely tell us whether or not your cat has cancer or if it has spread throughout its body. CBC and chemistry panels, on the other hand, can confirm that an animal's body is responding to the prescribed treatment plan without complications such as anemia or elevated kidney values. If these are not detected, they can result in blood loss, collapse due to weakness, or organ failure.
How often should my cat's blood be tested?
Now that you understand some of the most common blood tests and what they can tell us about your cat's health, you're probably wondering how often your cat should have this done as part of their health checkup.
It's a good idea for healthy cats to have bloodwork done once a year because cats have shorter lifespans than humans. If your cat is getting older, like reaching their senior years, having blood tests twice a year is recommended.
If your cat needs anesthesia for a procedure, make sure their bloodwork is up-to-date within the last month. Cats with illnesses or ongoing health problems may need blood tests more often, ranging from monthly to even daily or hourly, depending on how serious their condition is.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding cats. For an accurate diagnosis of your cat's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.