Our Norristown vets understand that it can be challenging to understand why your pet needs blood testing, and what those results mean. Today we explain the results of the dog's blood tests.
Why is blood work important for dogs?
Blood tests, when performed as part of preventive care, can detect the earliest signs of illness before any outward symptoms appear. They can aid in the detection, identification, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases and illnesses.
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 is displaying symptoms, diagnostic blood tests play an essential role in helping your vet determine the cause of your dog's symptoms.
What do blood tests for dogs show us?
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.
The chemistry panel and electrolytes tell your vet whether your pet’s liver, kidneys, and pancreas are healthy and working as they should.
This crucial laboratory work can also find and aid in locating complex problems with a dog's internal systems. For instance, blood tests for dogs can identify whether hormonal-chemical reactions are being triggered by internal or external stimuli. This indicates to a veterinarian that a potential issue with the dog's endocrine system may exist.
When will 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 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 vets 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.
We use cutting-edge veterinary technology to ensure the best possible treatment outcomes for our patients. Because blood tests are performed in-house at Trooper Veterinary Hospital, your veterinarian will be able to explain why specific tests are required, as well as the results, and will be able to answer any questions you may have.
If the test results show abnormalities and more blood tests are required, there will be fewer trips back and forth and time can be saved.
How much are blood tests for dogs?
The price of blood tests for your dog depends on a number of variables, including the complexity and quantity of the tests required. You can get a price quote from the staff at our Norristown animal hospital.
What do my dog's blood test results mean?
We will always take the time to explain your dog's blood tests and results at Trooper Veterinary Hospital because treating and managing health issues is a collaborative 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 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): 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.
We can 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?
Even if your dog appears to be in perfect health, our veterinarians at Trooper Veterinary Hospital advise having blood tests and lab work done as a preventative measure during an annual routine exam. This is due to the fact that the earlier we identify health problems, the more successfully we can treat them, protect your dog's health, conserve valuable time, and perhaps even treat or prevent uncomfortable symptoms.
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.