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Understanding Blood Tests for Dogs

Our Turlock vets understand that it can be challenging to understand why your pet needs blood testing, and what those results mean. Today, we explain the results of the dog's blood tests.

Why is blood work important for dogs?

Performing blood tests as part of preventive care allows for the detection of the earliest signs of illness, even before any outward symptoms become apparent. Aiding in the detection, identification, diagnosis, and treatment of disease or illness is one of their key functions.

Early disease detection allows for more timely prevention and treatment. Blood tests should be performed during routine exams on healthy pets. These tests help establish normal baseline values for future comparison, particularly as your pet ages.

If your dog is exhibiting symptoms, your veterinarian will need diagnostic blood tests to determine what is causing them.

What do blood tests for dogs show us?

Two common tests are a complete blood count (CBC) and a complete blood chemistry panel, which includes electrolytes and urinalysis. The CBC tests for anemia, inflammation, and infection. Additionally, it can predict the response of the immune system and the ability to form blood clots.

By examining the chemistry panel and electrolytes, your veterinarian can assess the condition and appropriate operation of your pet's kidneys, pancreas, and liver.

This critical laboratory work allows for the detection and identification of complex issues within a dog's internal systems. Blood tests for dogs can determine whether hormonal-chemical responses are caused by internal or external stimuli. A veterinarian may interpret this as a possible problem with the dog's endocrine system.

When will my dog need a blood test?

There are many reasons why your veterinarian might advise having blood work done on your dog, including:

  • 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, while looking 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

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 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.

Our patients benefit from the best possible treatment outcomes thanks to our use of cutting-edge veterinary technology. Your veterinarian at Taylor Veterinary Emergency will perform blood tests in-house. They will explain the reasons behind specific tests, discuss the results, and address any questions you may have.

Extra blood tests could be required in response to abnormal test results, which could save time by avoiding the need for multiple trips.

How much are blood tests for dogs?

The cost of blood tests for your pet will vary depending on a variety of factors, including the number of tests required and their complexity. Our animal hospital team at Turlock can give you a cost estimate.

What do my dog's blood test results mean?

At Taylor Veterinary Emergency, we are dedicated to ensuring that you fully understand your dog's blood tests and results. We believe that treating and managing health issues requires a collaborative effort from our veterinary team and concerned pet owners. Rest assured that we will always take the time to explain things to you.

Typically, your dog's bloodwork will include a complete blood count (CBC) or blood chemistry (serum test). The CBC will be important for dogs that have pale gums or are experiencing vomiting, fever, weakness, or loss of appetite. Blood tests for dogs with diarrhea also fall into this category.

Additionally, a CBC can find abnormalities such as bleeding disorders or other conditions that might go undetected otherwise.

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 (serum tests) reveal information about a dog's organ function (liver, kidneys, and pancreas), hormone levels, electrolyte status, and other factors.

We can evaluate the health of older dogs, perform general health checks before anesthesia, and monitor dogs on long-term medications.

These tests also help us evaluate the health of senior dogs and those with disease symptoms (such as Addison's, diabetes, kidney disease, or others), diarrhea, vomiting, or toxin exposure.

Does my dog need blood tests and lab work?

Even if your dog appears to be in excellent health, our veterinarians at Taylor Veterinary Emergency strongly advise you to include blood tests and lab work in your annual routine exam. This proactive approach protects your dog's health and detects potential problems early on. Detecting health issues early allows for more effective treatment, which preserves your dog's health, saves time, and may treat or prevent painful symptoms.

Our veterinary team prioritizes your pet's health and makes certain that you understand the importance of any required tests. We take a proactive approach to your dog's veterinary care, emphasizing prevention.

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 Taylor Veterinary Emergency today to find out how your dog can be seen by one of our experienced Turlock vets.

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Taylor Veterinary Emergency is accepting new patients! Our experienced Turlock vets are passionate about the health of cats and dogs. Get in touch today to book your first appointment.

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