Our Beacon 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 disease or illness.
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 vital laboratory work can also detect and assist in the identification of complex issues within a dog's internal systems. Blood tests for dogs, for example, can detect whether internal or external stimuli are causing hormonal-chemical responses. This indicates to a veterinarian that the dog's endocrine system may be malfunctioning.
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 The Beacon Veterinary Associates, 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 cost of blood tests for your dog will vary depending on a variety of factors, including the number of tests required and their complexity. Our Beacon animal hospital team can provide you with a cost estimate.
What do my dog's blood test results mean?
At The Beacon Veterinary Associates, 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.
Your dog's bloodwork will typically include a complete blood count (CBC) or blood chemistry (serum test). The CBC will be necessary for dogs who have pale gums or who are suffering from vomiting, fever, weakness, or loss of appetite. This category also includes blood tests for dogs who have diarrhea.
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 The Beacon Veterinary Associates recommend that blood tests and lab work be performed as a preventative measure during an annual routine exam. This is because the earlier we detect health problems, the more effectively we can treat them, preserving your dog's health, saving valuable time, and potentially treating or preventing painful 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.