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Understanding Blood Tests for Dogs

Has your dog's vet recommended blood tests for your pet? Today, our Mooresville vets will explain blood testing for dogs to help pet owners grasp its role in detecting health concerns.

Why Dogs Need Bloodwork

Many pet owners often question the necessity of bloodwork and other diagnostic tests for their dogs. They wonder why they should incur additional expenses when their pets seem healthy.

However, it's crucial to emphasize that bloodwork tests play a pivotal role in maintaining your pet's overall well-being. These essential diagnostic tests provide invaluable insights into your dog's health. For specific procedures like dental surgery, it's imperative to test your pet's blood to ensure they are in a suitable condition for the operation.

At Lake Norman at Mooresville Animal Hospital's diagnostic lab, we conduct standard and specialized blood tests to evaluate your pet's health. These tests enable us to monitor and identify illnesses, including various forms of cancer. Understanding the significance of bloodwork and its integral role can sometimes be challenging, but its value cannot be overstated.

How Long Does Blood Work Take at a Vet

Many pet owners mistakenly assume that all blood tests are the same, but this is not accurate. To ensure your pet's well-being, it's crucial to inquire about the specific test your vet is conducting and its necessity. At Mooresville, our veterinarians can clarify your pet's condition, the required diagnostic tests, and the valuable insights they provide in plain language.

Two of the most common veterinary blood tests are the Complete Blood Count (CBC) and the serum chemistry panel. These tests offer distinct yet complementary information.

A CBC enables us to gauge a patient's white blood cell count, red blood cell count, and platelet count while also providing data on the size and shape of red and white blood cells.

On the other hand, the chemistry panel allows us to evaluate organ function, particularly the kidneys and liver, in addition to electrolyte levels and other vital enzymes measurable in the bloodstream. Our in-house vet lab boasts advanced tools and technologies, ensuring precise diagnosis of your pet's medical issues.

Timely assessment and treatment are paramount when your pet is unwell or facing rapidly changing health conditions. With our experienced staff and state-of-the-art equipment, we can swiftly evaluate your pet's health and present treatment options.

What Bloodwork Can Tell Us 

The insights we can gain into your pet's health depend on the type of bloodwork we order. For instance, we can order various CBC and chemistry panels that provide different data based on our specific measurement needs and our objectives for understanding your pet's health.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

Each white blood cell type responds specifically to threats the immune system encounters. When analyzing your pet's blood sample, the veterinarian utilizes a CBC to determine the total white blood cell count and the quantity of each white blood cell type present.

Red blood cells (RBCs) serve the vital function of transporting oxygen to various tissues throughout the body. A CBC assesses the RBC count in your pet's blood and assesses their oxygen-carrying capacity based on hemoglobin levels within your furry friend's bloodstream.

Platelets contribute to the blood clotting process. If your dog possesses an insufficient platelet count, blood clotting may be delayed, potentially leading to abnormal or excessive bleeding. A CBC is instrumental in quantifying the platelet count in your dog's blood.

For example, we can request a routine CBC, which yields numerical values pertaining to cell counts from diagnostic machine-obtained samples. A CBC with a pathology review will be forwarded to a clinical pathologist responsible for the microscopic examination of a blood sample to verify machine-provided counts and detect abnormal cells. Damaged cells may indicate serious health issues such as leukemia, infections, anemia, poisoning, parasites, or other grave health concerns.

The rationale behind conducting bloodwork before surgery is the CBC's capability to identify low platelet levels. Platelets are essential in preventing excessive bleeding, and their levels must meet certain criteria to avoid excessive blood loss in your pet. Low platelet counts could also indicate the presence of severe infections, such as tick-borne illnesses, or life-threatening diseases.

Blood Chemistry Profile

We can gain valuable insights into the compounds present in your pet's bloodstream by analyzing a blood chemistry profile. This analysis provides a clear assessment of your dog's kidney function.

Furthermore, we can identify potential renal system abnormalities in cases of dehydration or obstructions. The liver's role in your dog's health is crucial, and elevated chemical values in this area may indicate liver disease or abnormalities in other organs. This test can also uncover abnormal electrolyte levels, which can be associated with conditions like seizures and gastrointestinal disease.

Blood protein levels are essential for your dog's physical well-being. They contribute to the proper functioning of the immune system and blood clotting. A blood chemistry profile reveals vital information about total protein levels, albumin levels, and globulin levels.

However, it's important to note that bloodwork results rarely provide information about the presence or spread of cancer in your pet's body. Nevertheless, CBC and chemistry panels can confirm that your animal responds to the prescribed treatment plan without complications, such as anemia or elevated kidney values. Failure to detect these issues could lead to blood loss, eventually resulting in weakness or organ failure and collapse in your dog. 

Regular Blood Testing

Now that you understand some of the most common blood tests and what they can tell us about your dog's health, you're probably wondering how often your pet should have this done as part of their health checkup.

Our furry companions' lifespans are much shorter than ours. That's why we recommend veterinary blood tests for healthy pets annually. For dogs approaching their senior years, semi-annual tests are typically best.

If your pet is undergoing an anesthetic procedure, bloodwork should be current (within a month). Pets that are ill or have health conditions may need bloodwork more frequently - monthly, weekly, daily, or hourly, depending on the health issue and its severity. 

Do you have more questions regarding diagnostic testing for your dog? Contact our Mooresville vets, who can address any concerns you might have.

New Patients Welcome

Lake Norman at Mooresville Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our veterinarians are passionate about improving the health of cats, dogs and exotic pets. Book your pet's first appointment today.

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(704) 664-4087