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Understanding Blood Tests for Dogs

Have you just been told your dog needs a blood test? We understand you may have many questions and concerns. Our Leighton vets offer some facts about blood tests for dogs in this post. 

Why is blood work important for dogs?

Blood tests are often done as part of preventive care to look for the earliest signs of illness or health conditions before any noticeable, external symptoms appear. This way, your vet can detect, diagnose, and treat the illness before it reaches a critical stage. 

Early disease detection allows us to administer treatment earlier. Blood tests are also done for healthy pets during routine exams to obtain normal baseline values to compare to later, and as your pet ages. 

If your dog is displaying symptoms of a health condition, diagnostic blood tests can help determine what's causing them. 

What do blood tests for dogs reveal?

A complete blood count (CBC) and complete blood chemistry panel, including electrolytes and urinalysis, are tests your vet may recommend. A CBC identifies whether inflammation, infection or anemia is occurring in the body. It can also be indicative of blood clotting ability and immune system response. 

A chemistry panel and electrolytes will reveal whether your pet's kidneys, liver, and pancreas function as they should.

These lab tests can also help your veterinarian identify complex issues happening in your dog's internal systems. For example, blood tests for dogs can tell us whether environmental or internal stimuli are causing hormonal-chemical responses. This tells a vet there may be a potential problem with a dog's endocrine system. 

When does my dog need a blood test?

Your vet may recommend that your dog have blood work done for many reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Your pet's first visit to the vet (to establish baseline data and for pre-anesthetic testing prior to a spay and 
  • Semi-annual routine exams and preventive care 
  • As pre-surgical testing to determine your dog's risk of complications during surgery 
  • Before starting a new medication 
  • If your dog is displaying odd behaviors 
  • To help assess your pet's condition during an emergency visit
  • During senior exams to identify age-related conditions in their earliest stages 

How long does blood work take at a vet?

At All Animal Clinic's in-house lab, we're able to perform many tests and get results quickly. The lab tests themselves are relatively fast; some take only minutes. Some tests may take somewhat longer. Your vet can offer an accurate timeframe depending on the specific tests your dog needs. 

What do my dog's blood test results mean?

Your vet in Leighton will always take the time to explain your dog's blood tests and their results, as our veterinary team is your partner in treating and managing your pet's health conditions. 

Your dog's bloodwork will usually include a complete blood count (CBC) or blood chemistry (serum test). With a CBC, we can detect bleeding disorders or other abnormalities that may not otherwise be caught. This test is also important for dogs that have pale gums or are experiencing loss of appetite, weakness, fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. 

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 (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.

Does my dog need blood tests and lab work?

At All Animal Clinic our vets recommend blood tests are conducted and lab work done as a proactive measure during an annual routine exam, even if your dog seems perfectly 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 people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.

Does your dog need advanced diagnostic tests or treatment? Contact our Leighton vets  to book an appointment.

All Patients Welcome

Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Leighton animals. We currently only take pets by walk-in, so bring your pet to us today and let us help ensure their well-being.

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