It can be difficult to take your pet for a blood test. To help ease your worries, our Denver vets are here to help explain blood tests for dogs.
Why is Blood Work Important for Dogs?
Including blood tests as part of preventive care allows us to identify the earliest indications of illness even before any visible symptoms manifest. This enables veterinarians to detect, identify, diagnose, and treat illnesses promptly.
By detecting diseases at an early stage, it becomes possible to administer prevention measures and treatments sooner. Additionally, even for healthy pets, routine blood tests during exams are important for establishing normal baseline values that can be used for future comparisons, especially as your pet ages.
In cases where your dog is exhibiting symptoms, diagnostic blood tests are invaluable in assisting veterinarians to determine the underlying cause of these symptoms.
What Do Blood Tests for Dogs Reveal?
Common tests conducted during a veterinary examination include a complete blood count (CBC), a complete blood chemistry panel with electrolytes, and a urinalysis. The CBC helps identify the presence of anemia, inflammation, or infection. It can also provide insights into the immune system response and blood clotting ability.
The blood chemistry panel and electrolyte tests provide valuable information to determine the proper functioning of your pet's liver, kidneys, and pancreas.
These essential laboratory tests also play a crucial role in detecting and identifying complex issues within a dog's internal systems. For instance, blood tests for dogs can reveal whether internal or environmental factors are triggering hormonal-chemical responses. This information enables veterinarians to identify potential problems within the dog's endocrine system.
When Does My Dog Need a Blood Test?
Many circumstances can lead to your vet recommending that your dog have blood work done, such as:
- 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
- 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
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 are relatively quick and can take as little as a few minutes. Your vet can provide an accurate timeframe so contact them for more detailed information regarding your pet's blood work.
What Do My Dog's Blood Test Results Mean?
As part of your dog's medical evaluation, bloodwork usually involves a complete blood count (CBC). The CBC is particularly valuable when dogs exhibit symptoms such as pale gums, vomiting, fever, weakness, loss of appetite, or diarrhea. A CBC can also detect bleeding disorders or other abnormalities that may not be identified otherwise.
At Pets on Broadway Animal Hospital, we prioritize clear communication and will dedicate the necessary time to explain your dog's blood tests and their outcomes. Treating and managing health issues is a collaborative effort between our veterinary team and caring pet owners.
A CBC reveals detailed information, including:
- 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.
- 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.
What Blood Chemistries Reveal (Blood Serum Test):
Blood chemistries (blood serum tests) give vets insight into a dog’s organ function, hormone levels and electrolyte status.
The test can be used to assess the health of older dogs, general health assessments before anesthesia, or monitor dogs receiving long-term medications.
These tests also help 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 Pets on Broadway Animal Hospital our vets recommend blood tests and lab work as a proactive measure during an annual routine exam. This is because the sooner we catch health issues, the more effectively we can treat pets..
Our team will always advocate for your pet’s health, explain any tests that are needed 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.