We know that getting a blood test for your pet can be distressing. Our Portland veterinarians are here to provide information and support regarding dog blood tests to alleviate your worries.
Why is Blood Work Important for Dogs?
Blood tests are crucial for dogs because they can reveal signs of illness before any visible symptoms. This early detection allows vets to diagnose and treat illnesses promptly.
When we detect diseases early, prevention and treatment can be administered earlier. Healthy pets also need blood tests during routine exams to obtain normal baseline values to compare to later and as your pet ages.
If your dog shows symptoms, diagnostic blood tests help identify the cause.
What Do Blood Tests for Dogs Reveal?
Blood tests for dogs, including a completed blood count (CBC) and complete blood chemistry panel, including electrolytes and urinalysis, are common tests. The CBC checks for anemia, inflammation, or infection present. It can also indicate immune system response and blood clotting ability.
The chemistry panel and electrolytes assess the function of your pet's liver, kidneys, and pancreas, which are working as they should.
This crucial lab work can also detect and help identify complex issues within a dog's internal systems. For example, it can indicate if hormonal-chemical responses are triggered by internal or environmental factors suggesting a potential issue with the dog's endocrine system to the veterinarian.
When Does My Dog Need a Blood Test?
Countless circumstances can lead to your vet recommending that your dog have blood work done, 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, 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 a variety of 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 Cedar Mill Veterinary Hospital, we're committed to clarifying your dog's blood test results. We believe in teamwork between your vet and devoted pet owners to ensure your dog's health.
Your dog's bloodwork typically includes 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 can also detect bleeding disorders or other abnormalities that may not be identified 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) are pigments of red blood cells that carry oxygen.
- White blood cell count (WBC): We measure the body's immune cells with this test. 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 (blood serum tests) provide valuable information about a dog's organ function (liver, kidneys, and pancreas), hormone levels, electrolyte status, and more.
These tests have multiple uses, such as evaluating the well-being of older dogs, conducting general health checks before administering anesthesia, or keeping tabs on dogs on extended dmciation regimens.
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.
Does My Dog Need Blood Tests & Lab Work?
At Cedar Mill Veterinary Hospital, our vets advise conducting blood tests and lab work as part of your dog's annual routine exam, even if your pet appears healthy. This is because the sooner we catch health issues, the more effectively we can treat your dog.
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.