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Understanding Blood Tests for Dogs

When it comes to our beloved canine companions, their health is of utmost importance. Blood tests for dogs are essential tools that veterinarians use to diagnose, monitor, and manage various health conditions. Understanding why and when a pet needs blood testing, the importance of blood work, and the details surrounding the process can help you make informed decisions about your dog's care.

Why & when does a pet need blood testing? 

Blood tests are often recommended, including annual check-ups to help detect early signs of disease, pre-surgery assessments to evaluate organ function and overall health, and identifying illness symptoms when a dog displays signs like lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea. Additionally, older dogs may require more frequent blood tests to monitor age-related health issues.

What do blood tests for dogs reveal?

A complete blood count (CBC) and complete blood chemistry panel, including electrolytes and urinalysis, are common tests. The CBC identifies whether anemia, inflammation, or infection is 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 work as they should.

This important lab work can also detect and help 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.

Understanding the Results of the Dog's Blood Tests

Interpreting blood test results involves understanding several key components:

  • Hematocrit (HCT): This test measures the percentage of red blood cells to detect hydration or anemia.
  • Hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (Hb and MCHC) are pigments in red blood cells that carry oxygen.
  • White blood cell count (WBC): This test measures 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): This test can provide important information about blood clotting. High levels can indicate that a dog is 30 to 40 days pregnant.

How long does blood work take at a vet?

Our in-house lab allows our veterinarians to conduct a wide range of tests and obtain fast results. The tests are generally quick and can be completed within minutes, although some may take a bit longer. Your vet will be able to give you an accurate timeframe.

How much are blood tests for dogs?

The cost of blood tests for your furry friend will vary depending on several factors, such as the number and complexity of the tests. Our animal hospital team at Stuart can provide you with a cost estimate.

Blood Tests for Dogs with Diarrhea

Diarrhea in dogs can be caused by numerous factors, including infections, dietary indiscretion, or more serious health issues. Blood tests for dogs with diarrhea help identify:

  • Infections: Bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections.
  • Inflammatory conditions: Such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  • Organ dysfunction: Issues with the liver, pancreas, or kidneys that may contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms.

Why is blood work important for dogs and cats?

Blood tests are invaluable for maintaining dogs' and cat's health and well-being. By understanding the purpose, process, and interpretation of these tests, pet owners can better advocate for their furry friends' health.

Regular blood work, especially for senior dogs or those with chronic conditions, ensures early detection and effective management of potential health issues.

Whether your dog or cat is undergoing routine screening or experiencing symptoms like diarrhea, timely blood testing can provide critical insights and guide appropriate treatment plans.

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? Please get in touch with our Brighton veterinarians to book an appointment.

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