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Understanding Blood Tests for Dogs

Diagnostics such as bloodwork provide your vet with a thorough understanding of how your pet's body is functioning. Here, our veterinary specialists in Westminster talk about the purpose of blood tests for dogs, when they are used, what we learn from them and how they help us care for your pet.

Why and when are blood tests for dogs needed?

Performing blood tests as part of preventive care allows for the detection of the earliest signs of illness, even before any outward symptoms become apparent. Aiding in the detection, identification, diagnosis, and treatment of disease or illness is one of their key functions.

Early detection of diseases allows for earlier administration of prevention and treatment. During routine exams, it is important to conduct blood tests for healthy pets. These tests help establish normal baseline values for comparison in the future, especially as your pet gets older.

Diagnostic blood tests are crucial in helping your vet identify the cause of your dog's symptoms if they are displaying any.

Why are blood tests important?

Two common tests are a complete blood count (CBC) and a complete blood chemistry panel, which includes electrolytes and urinalysis. The CBC tests for anemia, inflammation, and infection. Additionally, it can predict the response of the immune system and the ability to form blood clots.

Your veterinarian can determine the health and proper functioning of your pet's liver, kidneys, and pancreas by analyzing the chemistry panel and electrolytes.

By performing this crucial laboratory work, complex issues within a dog's internal systems can be detected and identified. Dogs' blood tests can identify the source of hormonal-chemical responses, whether they are triggered by internal or external stimuli. A veterinarian may interpret this as a potential issue with the dog's endocrine system.

When are blood tests performed?

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, while looking 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 symptoms or acting abnormally or “off”
  • 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 veterinary specialists can perform a variety of tests and get results quickly. The tests themselves only take a few minutes and may save the life of your dog - not to mention future expenses for treatment or symptom management in the future. Some tests may take somewhat longer. Your vet can provide an accurate timeframe.

Our patients benefit from the best possible treatment outcomes thanks to our use of cutting-edge veterinary technology. Our vet specialists at Choice Veterinary Specialists will perform blood tests in-house. They will explain the reasons behind specific tests, discuss the results, and address any questions you may have.

Abnormal test results may necessitate additional blood tests, which can help minimize the need for multiple trips and save valuable time.

How much are blood tests for dogs?

The cost of blood tests for your furry friend will vary depending on several factors, such as the number of tests needed and their complexity. Our animal hospital team at Westminster can provide you with a cost estimate.

What do my dog's blood test results mean?

At Choice Veterinary Specialists, we are committed to ensuring that you fully understand your dog's blood tests and results. We believe that treating and managing health issues requires a collaborative effort between our veterinary team and caring pet owners. Rest assured, we will always take the time to explain everything to you.

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 can also detect bleeding disorders or other abnormalities that may not be identified otherwise.

Complete Blood Count Results:

  • 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 Chemistry Panel Results (Blood Serum Test):

Blood chemistries (serum tests) reveal information about a dog's organ function (liver, kidneys, and pancreas), hormone levels, electrolyte status, and other factors.

We can evaluate the health of older dogs, perform general health checks before anesthesia, and monitor dogs on long-term medications.

These tests also help us evaluate the health of senior dogs and those with disease symptoms (such as Addison's, diabetes, kidney disease, or others), diarrhea, vomiting, or toxin exposure.

Should my dog have bloodwork?

Our veterinary specialists at Choice Veterinary Specialists strongly advise blood tests and lab work during your dog's annual routine exam with their primary vet, even if they seem perfectly healthy. This proactive approach helps ensure your dog's well-being and detects any potential issues early on. Detecting health issues early allows for more effective treatment, preserving your dog's health, saving time, and potentially treating or preventing painful symptoms.

Our veterinary team prioritizes your pet's health and ensures that you understand the necessity of any required tests. We take a proactive approach to your dog's veterinary care, focusing on prevention.

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.

Has your pet been diagnosed with a complex internal condition? Ask your primary care vet about a referral to Choice Veterinary Specialists. Our team is experienced in providing diagnostics and treatment for a variety of internal medicine conditions.

New Patients Welcome

Choice Veterinary Specialists is accepting new patients. Our experienced veterinary specialists are passionate about improving the health of Westminster animals with complex healthcare needs. Contact us today.

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