You may be worried that if blood tests are requested then it means that your dog may be sick, but that is not always the case. To help ease your concerns, our Bedford vets talk about why your dog might need blood tests done, what these tests can show your vet and what it all means.
The Importance of Blood Tests For Dogs
Blood tests for dogs completed at our veterinary diagnostics lab as a part of routine care give us an indication of the earliest signs of illness before any outward symptoms appear. So that your vet can detect, identify, diagnose and treat the illness.
By detecting and monitoring diseases and conditions as early as possible we are able to begin treatment sooner allowing for the best possible outcome. Healthy pets also need blood tests during routine exams to obtain normal baseline values to compare to later, and as your pet ages.
Blood tests can also be done at our vet diagnostics lab to help determine the cause of the symptoms that your dog has been experiencing and allows our veterinary team to provide care through physical treatment and medications that are available to us in our on-site animal pharmacy in Bedford.
What will blood tests show?
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 working as they should.
The results of these diagnostic tests help your vet to detect and help to identify complex issues within a dog’s internal systems. For example, blood tests for dogs can detect whether internal or environmental stimuli are causing hormonal-chemical responses. This tells a veterinarian there may be a potential problem with the dog’s endocrine system.
When would a blood test be requested for my dog?
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 to 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 will I need to wait for my dog's results?
Thanks to our in-house vet diagnostics lab and pet pharmacy, our vets can perform a variety of tests and get results quickly as well as offer medications right away if needed. The tests themselves are relatively quick and can take minutes. Some tests may take somewhat longer. Your vet will be able to provide you with an accurate timeframe.
What do the results of the blood test mean?
At Fine Animal Hospital, we will always take the time to explain your dog’s blood tests and their results, as treatment and management of health issues are a team 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.
Information From Complete Blood Count Tests
- 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 can be seen with blood serum tests?
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.
Should my dog have a blood test done?
At Fine Animal Hospital our vets in our veterinary diagnostics lab 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 is available to perform testing in our vet diagnostics lab and utilize our on-site animal pharmacy in Bedford to help treat any conditions that are diagnosed.
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.