Learning that your vet wants to perform blood tests on your dog can be concerning, especially if you don't know why or what to expect. Here, our Citrus Heights vets share some valuable information about blood tests for dogs, why they are needed and what we learn from them.
The Importance of Blood Tests For Dogs
Your vet may recommend performing blood tests on your dog to help detect any potential conditions before the first signs of illness even appear. This will allow your vet the opportunity to begin treating your pet sooner.
Even if your dog is healthy, your vet may use blood tests as a way of continuously monitoring their health as they age as this is a great way to track and note any abnormalities if they arise.
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 can be seen using the different blood tests?
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. Your vet can also use this test to determine the ability of your pet's blood to clot as well as monitor their immune system function.
The chemistry panel and electrolytes tell your vet whether your pet’s liver, kidneys, and pancreas are working as they should.
Using lab work your vet will be able to monitor and manage the issues that arise affecting the internal health of your pup. 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 might the vet request a blood test for my dog?
While there are a number of reasons why your vet may suggest blood tests for your dog including:
- 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 help 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
- Ordering a blood test for dogs experience symptoms of illness such as diarrhea
How long can I expect blood tests for my dog to take?
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 can I expect from my dog's blood test results?
At Family Friends Veterinary 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 with pale gums or 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.
Using a CBC the vet can gain information about the following components:
- 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 the vet will see using a blood chemistries panel (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.
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.
How will I know if my dog needs blood tests?
At Family Friends Veterinary 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 tests that are needed and why, and take a preventive approach to your dog’s veterinary care.
If you are wondering how much blood tests are for dogs, our vets in Citrus Heights would be happy to break down the cost for you during a consultation.
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.