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Understanding Blood Tests for Dogs

Understanding Blood Tests for Dogs

At Mankato, we acknowledge that taking your beloved pet for a blood test can be an emotional and distressing experience. We understand that you want the best for your furry friend, so our team of veterinarians is available to guide you through the process and clearly understand what the blood test entails.

Why is Blood Work Important for Dogs?

Regular blood tests are an essential part of preventative care for your pet. These tests can identify early signs of illness before any symptoms become noticeable.

This allows your vet to diagnose and treat any health problems promptly. In addition, blood tests provide important baseline values for healthy pets, which can be compared to later readings.

As your pet ages, regular blood tests become even more important. Diagnostic blood tests are also crucial if your pet is showing any signs of illness, as they can help your vet determine the underlying cause.

What Do Blood Tests for Dogs Reveal?

When your pet goes for a checkup, your vet will likely perform a complete blood count (CBC), blood chemistry panel, electrolytes, and urinalysis. These tests are important to identify any anemia, inflammation, or infection your pet may have and their immune system response and blood clotting ability.

The chemistry panel and electrolyte tests can also tell your vet if your pet's liver, kidneys, and pancreas are functioning properly. These tests can also help identify more complex issues within your pet's body, such as detecting whether internal or environmental factors cause hormonal-chemical responses. This information can alert your vet to any potential problems with your pet'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 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 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 River Hills Pet Care Hospital, we believe that the health and well-being of your furry friend is a team effort between our veterinary team and loving pet owners. That's why we take the time to explain your dog's blood tests and their results, which usually include a complete blood count (CBC) or blood chemistry (serum test).

These tests are especially important for dogs experiencing symptoms like pale gums, vomiting, fever, weakness, loss of appetite, or diarrhea. By conducting a CBC, we can detect bleeding disorders or other abnormalities that may not be visible otherwise, helping us to treat and manage your dog's health issues effectively.

A CBC reveals detailed information, including:

  • Hematocrit (HCT): This test can identify the percentage of red blood cells to detect hydration or anemia.
  • Hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (Hb and MCHC) are pigments of red blood cells that carry oxygen.
  • White blood cell count (WBC): This test measures 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): This test reveals important information about blood clotting. High levels can indicate a dog is 30 to 40 days pregnant.

What Blood Chemistries Reveal (Blood Serum Test):

Blood chemistry tests are incredibly valuable for determining a dog's organ function, hormone levels, electrolyte balance, and overall health status. These tests can be used to assess the well-being of older dogs, conduct general health evaluations before administering anesthesia, or monitor dogs taking long-term medications. 

Moreover, these tests play a crucial role in assessing the health of senior dogs and dogs that display symptoms of diseases like Addison's, diabetes, kidney diseases, or other ailments such as diarrhea, vomiting, or toxin exposure. In short, blood serum tests are valuable for veterinarians to evaluate a dog's overall health and well-being.

Does My Dog Need Blood Tests & Lab Work?

At River Hills Pet Care Hospital our vets 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 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.

Does your pet require advanced diagnostic care or treatment? Please contact our Mankato veterinarians to book an appointment

Compassionate Veterinary Care

At River Hills Pet Care Hospital our experienced vets are passionate about improving the health of Mankato companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's appointment.

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