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Understanding Blood Tests for Dogs

We know that getting a blood test for your pet can be upsetting. Our San Mateo vets are here to help you understand blood tests for dogs and ease your concerns.

Why is Blood Work Important for Dogs?

When performed as part of preventive care, blood tests provide early indications of illness before any outward symptoms manifest. This enables your vet to detect, identify, diagnose, and treat the illness promptly.

Early disease detection allows for quicker administration of prevention and treatment. Additionally, healthy pets should undergo blood tests during routine exams to establish normal baseline values for future comparisons as they age.

If your dog exhibits symptoms, diagnostic blood tests play a crucial role in aiding your vet in determining the root cause of those symptoms.

What Do Blood Tests for Dogs Reveal?

Common tests include a complete blood count (CBC) and a complete blood chemistry panel, including electrolytes and urinalysis. The CBC determines the presence of anemia, inflammation, or infection and assesses the immune system's response and blood clotting ability.

The chemistry panel and electrolyte tests help your vet assess the functionality of your pet's liver, kidneys, and pancreas.

This crucial lab work can also uncover and assist in identifying complex issues within a dog's internal systems. For instance, blood tests for dogs can reveal whether internal or environmental stimuli trigger hormonal-chemical responses, signaling a potential problem with the dog's endocrine system to the veterinarian.

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, 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?

South Hillsdale Animal Hospital is committed to ensuring that you fully understand your dog's blood tests and the results as a caring pet owner. We believe in a collaborative approach between our veterinary team and you in treating and managing your pet's health.

Your dog's bloodwork typically encompasses either a complete blood count (CBC) or a blood chemistry (serum test). The CBC plays a crucial role for dogs exhibiting symptoms like pale gums, vomiting, fever, weakness, or loss of appetite. Additionally, it is essential for dogs with diarrhea.

Furthermore, the CBC can identify bleeding disorders and other abnormalities that may go unnoticed.

A CBC reveals detailed information, including:

  • Hematocrit (HCT): This test can identify the percentage of red blood cells to detect hydration or anemia.
  • Hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (Hb and MCHC) are pigments of red blood cells that carry oxygen.
  • White blood cell count (WBC): We measure the body's immune cells with this test. 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 reveals important information about blood clotting. 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, provide valuable insights into a dog's organ function, including the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. They also reveal 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.

Does My Dog Need Blood Tests & Lab Work?

At San Mateo, our veterinarians advise conducting blood tests and lab work as a proactive measure during your dog's annual routine exam, regardless of their apparent health. This proactive approach enables us to detect potential health issues sooner and provide more effective treatment for your dog.

Our veterinary team prioritizes your pet's health, providing clear explanations for necessary tests and taking a preventive approach to their 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? Please get in touch with our San Mateo veterinarians to book an appointment.

Contact Us To Get Started

At South Hillsdale Animal Hospital, our experienced vets are passionate about the health of San Mateo companion animals. Get in touch today to learn more about our services and becoming a new client with us.

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