Understanding Blood Tests for Dogs

We recognize that taking your pet for a blood test can be distressing. To alleviate your worries, our veterinarians at O’Fallon are available to provide information on blood tests for dogs.

Why is Blood Work Important for Dogs?

Getting blood tests as part of preventive care can help detect the earliest signs of illness before any symptoms manifest. This allows your vet to diagnose and treat the illness promptly.

Early detection of diseases can lead to better prevention and treatment. Even healthy pets need blood tests during routine exams to establish normal baseline values for future comparison, especially as they age.

For dogs displaying symptoms, diagnostic blood tests are crucial in identifying the root cause of their symptoms.

What Do Blood Tests for Dogs Reveal?

Your veterinarian may recommend common tests such as a complete blood count (CBC) and a complete blood chemistry panel, which includes electrolytes and urinalysis. These tests can identify whether your pet has anemia, inflammation, or infection. They can also indicate immune system response and blood clotting ability.

The chemistry panel and electrolytes can help your vet determine if your pet's liver, kidneys, and pancreas are functioning properly. This important lab work can also detect complex issues within your dog's internal systems. For example, blood tests for dogs can detect hormonal-chemical responses caused by internal or environmental stimuli, which can indicate a potential problem with the dog'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 Gentle Doctor Animal Hospital, we believe in working together with pet owners to ensure the best possible health for their dogs. As part of this commitment, we take the time to explain your dog's blood tests and their results.

These tests typically include a complete blood count (CBC) or blood chemistry (serum test). A CBC is especially important for dogs experiencing symptoms like vomiting, fever, weakness, loss of appetite, or pale gums.

Additionally, dogs with diarrhea may need blood tests to identify underlying health issues. By performing a CBC, we can also detect any bleeding disorders or abnormalities that may not be immediately apparent.

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, also known as blood serum tests, can provide valuable information about a dog's organ function, hormone levels, electrolyte status, and other health indicators.

These tests are useful for assessing the overall health of older dogs, screening for potential health issues before administering anesthesia, and monitoring dogs who are taking long-term medications.

Additionally, blood chemistries can help veterinarians evaluate the health of senior dogs and those exhibiting symptoms of various diseases, such as Addison's disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and toxin exposure, as well as dogs experiencing diarrhea or vomiting.

Does My Dog Need Blood Tests & Lab Work?

At Gentle Doctor Animal 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.

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? Contact our O’Fallon veterinarians.