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Understanding Blood Tests for Dogs

Blood work is crucial for both monitoring your pup's health and for diagnosing medical conditions. Here, our vet specialists in Springfield discuss the importance of blood tests for dogs and what we can learn from tests performed in our veterinary diagnostic laboratory.

Blood Tests for Dogs

Blood tests can be a vital part of your dog's routine care, allowing vets to spot and diagnose potential issues before the symptoms become obvious.

The sooner issues are diagnosed, the quicker treatment can begin, allowing for the best possible outcome. During routine exams, it is important to conduct blood tests for healthy pets. These tests help establish normal baseline values for comparison in the future, especially as your pet gets older.

What makes bloodwork so important for dogs?

Two common tests are a complete blood count (CBC) and a complete blood chemistry panel (blood serum test), which includes electrolytes and urinalysis. The CBC tests for anemia, inflammation, and infection. Additionally, it can predict the response of the immune system and the ability to form blood clots.

Your veterinarian can determine the health and proper functioning of your pet's liver, kidneys, and pancreas by analyzing the chemistry panel and electrolytes.

This crucial laboratory work can detect and identify complex issues within a dog's internal systems. Dogs' blood tests can identify the source of hormonal-chemical responses, whether they are triggered by internal or external stimuli. A veterinarian may interpret this as a potential issue with the dog's endocrine system.

When are blood tests requested?

Some of the reasons why a blood test may be ordered include:

  • Your pet's first vet visit (to establish baseline data)
  • Pre-anesthetic testing before a spaying or neutering procedure
  • Semi-annual routine exams as preventive care
  • During senior exams, while looking for age-related conditions in the earliest stages
  • 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 do blood tests take to perform?

At our veterinary diagnostic laboratory in Springfield, we can perform a variety of tests and get results quickly. These tests usually 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. If your dog has any additional testing then it may take a little longer. Your primary care vet will explain the purpose of your visit to our specialty veterinary hospital and what to expect beforehand.

Our vet specialists at The Regional Veterinary Referral Center perform blood tests in-house using cutting-edge technology and equipment. They will explain the reasons behind specific tests, discuss the results, and address any questions you may have.

What will we learn about your dog's health?

At The Regional Veterinary Referral Center, we are committed to ensuring that you fully understand your dog's blood tests and results. We believe that treating and managing health issues requires a collaborative effort between our veterinary team and caring pet owners. We will always take time at the end of the visit to explain our findings and what the next steps might be.

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. Using the results of a CBC we may also be able to spot the signs of bleeding disorders or other abnormalities.

What does a CBC (complete blood count) show us?

  • 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 (Retic Count): High levels of immature red blood cells can point to regenerative anemia.
  • Fibrinogen:  This protein helps stop bleeding by helping blood clots to form. High levels are generally associated with cardiovascular diseases.

What does a blood chemistry test show us about your dog's health?

Blood chemistries (serum tests) reveal information about a dog's organ function (liver, kidneys, and pancreas), hormone levels, electrolyte status, and other factors.  They can also be used to determine the health of older dogs, perform general health checks before anesthesia, and monitor dogs on long-term medications.

Will my dog need blood tests at a specialty veterinary diagnostic laboratory?

Blood tests and lab work are commonly performed during your dog's annual routine exam, even if they seem perfectly healthy. This approach allows your vet to spot and treat issues early on. Detecting health issues early allows for more effective treatment, preserving your dog's health, saving time, and potentially treating or preventing painful symptoms.

In some cases, your dog's lab work at their primary veterinary clinic will come back with abnormal results or results that require further testing. If this occurs then your dog may be referred to our specialty animal hospital for advanced diagnostics. At The Regional Veterinary Referral Center we are equipped to provide diagnostics and care in complex situations.

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.

Is your dog in need of a routine exam and diagnostics? Contact our vet specialists at The Regional Veterinary Referral Center in Springfield today to schedule an appointment.

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The Regional Veterinary Referral Center is accepting new patients in emergency situations or by referral! Our experienced specialists are passionate about the health of Springfield pets. Contact us today to learn more.

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