What is the importance of blood tests for dogs?
Blood tests are a simple way for your vet to note any potential conditions or concerns before they become a larger issue. By detecting concerns early your vet will be able to help create a treatment plan for your dog that will help manage any potential symptoms and treat the condition in a timely manner before it becomes too serious.
Blood tests are not only requested when a pet is feeling unwell. Healthy pets also need blood tests during routine exams to obtain normal baseline values for comparison throughout their lives and especially as they get older.
If your dog is displaying symptoms, diagnostic blood tests play an essential role in helping your vet determine the cause of your dog's symptoms.
What will blood tests show us about your dog's health?
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.
Your vet will use the chemistry panel to determine whether or not your pet's kidneys, liver and pancreas are functioning as they should.
This important lab work can also detect and help to identify complex issues within a dog’s internal systems. For example, blood tests for dogs can detect whether internal or environmental stimuli are causing hormonal-chemical responses. This tells a veterinarian there may be a potential problem with the dog’s endocrine system.
When might a vet request blood tests?
There are a number of reasons why your pet may undergo blood tests such as:
- 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 will a visit to the vet take if it includes bloodwork?
Thanks to our in-house lab, our vets can perform a variety of tests and get results quickly. While many tests can be done in a relatively short amount of time, others can take much longer. Speak with your vet to learn more about how long you can expect your dog's diagnostics to take.
How To Understand the Results of Your Dog's Blood Tests
At Stine Veterinary Hospital, we will always take the time to explain your dog’s blood tests and their results, as treatment and management of health issues are a team effort between our veterinary team and loving pet owners.
Typically, your dog's bloodwork will include a complete blood count (CBC) or blood chemistry (serum test). The CBC will be important for dogs that have pale gums or are experiencing vomiting, fever, weakness, or loss of appetite. Blood tests for dogs with diarrhea also fall into this category.
A CBC is also useful for shedding light on abnormalities related to bleeding and other concerns that other tests may not show.
The Results of a Complete Blood Count (CBC) Will Show:
- 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.
Blood Chemistries (Blood Serum Test) Will Share the Following Information:
Blood chemistries (blood serum tests) give us insight into a dog’s organ function (liver, kidneys, and pancreas), hormone levels, electrolyte status, and more.
The test can be used to assess the health of older dogs, do general health assessments before anesthesia, or monitor dogs receiving long-term medications.
These tests also help us evaluate senior dogs’ health and those with symptoms of diseases (such as Addison’s, diabetes, kidney diseases, or others), diarrhea, vomiting, or toxin exposure.
Will my dog need blood tests or other diagnostics?
At Stine Veterinary Hospital our vets may recommend blood tests as part of your dog's complete routine care in order to help ensure their lifelong health. By being proactive and performing diagnostics throughout your pets life we help manage any issues from the very start.
Our veterinary team will always advocate for your pet’s health, explain any tests that are needed and why, and take 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.