Your vet may recommend that your dog has blood work done in order to help monitor their health or diagnose potential conditions. Today our Hoquiam vets discuss the various reasons that your dog may need blood tests and how to prepare your dog to have blood tests done at our lab.
What is the importance of blood tests in dogs?
When done as part of preventive care, blood tests give us an indication of the earliest signs of illness before any outward symptoms appear. They can help to detect, identify, diagnose or even treat 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 are the common areas that blood tests can help monitor?
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 important lab work can also detect and help to identify complex issues within a dog’s internal systems. 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.
in what instances might my dog require blood tests?
There are countless circumstances that 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 symptoms or acting abnormally or “off”
- To help assess your pet's condition during an emergency visit
Will I receive my dog's blood test results quickly?
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 leverage advanced veterinary technology to ensure our patients will have the best possible treatment outcomes. Because blood tests at Raintree Veterinary Hospital are done in-house, your vet will be able to explain why specific tests are needed and their results and address 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.
What information will a dog blood test reveal?
- 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 specific types 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.
How can I prepare my dog for blood tests?
Some things you can do to help prepare your dog for their blood tests are:
- Light Fasting. Fasting is recommended for dogs that are about to have blood tests as fasting limits the amount of lipemia in the blood which can alter the results.
- Keep your dog hydrated. This is especially important is the weather has been hot as dehydration can actually change the results of your dog's blood tests.
- Save exercise for later. It is possible for physical activity and play to affect the results of the dog blood tests.
- Keep stress to a minimum. Your dog may be nervous coming to the clinic and vet lab and so you should try to keep them relaxed.
- Always keep your dog on a leash. Keeping your dog on a leash while waiting at the veterinary diagnostic lab can help your dog to feel safe and relaxed.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.