Going for a blood test with your pet can be worrisome. Our vets at Seattle are here to make it easier by explaining dog blood tests to you.
Why is Blood Work Important for Dogs?
Getting blood tests for your pet is like a health check-up. It helps the vet find problems before they show any signs.
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 sick, these tests are vital for figuring out why.
What Do Blood Tests for Dogs Reveal?
Blood tests for dogs, including a complete blood count (CBC) and a chemistry panel with electrolytes, are routine exams. The CBCI checks for anemia, inflammation, or infection while also revealing insights about the immune system and blood clotting.
The chemistry panel and electrolytes tell your vet whether your pet's liver, kidneys, and pancreas are working as they should.
These tests are crucial for spotting complex issues within a dog's body. For example, they can uncover if hormones are responding to internal or external factors, hinting at a possible problem with the dog's endocrine system.
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 Madison Park Veterinary Hospital, we're committed to making sure you understand your dog's blood tests and what they mean. We believe that keeping your furry friend healthy is a partnership between our veterinary experts and you, their loving owner.
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.
The CBC can spot bleeding problems or other issues that might go unnoticed otherwise. We're here to help you keep your dog in tip-top shape.
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 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 & Lab Work?
At Madison Park Veterinary Hospital, our veterinarian advises doing blood tests and lab work as part of your dog's yearly check-up, even if your furry friend appears completely well. This is because finding health problems early allows us to provide better treatment for your dog.
Our veterinary team will always advocate for your pet's health, explain any necessary and why tests, 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.