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Understanding Blood Tests for Dogs

Diagnostics like bloodwork allow our vets to monitor your pup's health and spot issues before they become more advanced. Here, our vets in Los Angeles share reasons why blood tests are needed and what you can expect from your dog's visit to our veterinary diagnostics laboratory.

Blood Tests for Dogs

Blood tests can be a vital part of your dog's routine care. allowing vets to spot and diagnose potential issues before the symptoms become obvious.

The sooner issues are diagnosed, the quicker treatment can begin, allowing for the best possible outcome. During routine exams, it is important to conduct blood tests for healthy pets. These tests help establish normal baseline values for comparison in the future, especially as your pet gets older.

What makes bloodwork so important for dogs?

Two common tests are a complete blood count (CBC) and a complete blood chemistry panel (blood serum test), 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.

Your veterinarian can determine the health and proper functioning of your pet's liver, kidneys, and pancreas by analyzing the chemistry panel and electrolytes.

This crucial laboratory work can detect and identify complex issues within a dog's internal systems. Dogs' blood tests can identify the source of hormonal-chemical responses, whether they are triggered by internal or external stimuli. A veterinarian may interpret this as a potential issue with the dog's endocrine system.

When are blood tests requested?

Some of the reasons why a blood test may be ordered include:

  • Your pet's first vet visit (to establish baseline data)
  • 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
  • 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 bloodwork take at a veterinary diagnostic laboratory?

At our veterinary diagnostic laboratory in Los Angeles, we can perform a variety of tests and get results quickly. These tests usually 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. If your dog has any additional testing then it may take a little longer. Your vet will explain the purpose of your visit and what to expect beforehand.

Our vets at Mohawk Alley Animal Hospital perform blood tests in-house using cutting-edge technology and equipment. They will explain the reasons behind specific tests, discuss the results, and address any questions you may have.

What do blood tests tell us about your dog?

At Mohawk Alley Animal Hospital, we are committed 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 between our veterinary team and caring pet owners. We will always take time at the end of the visit to explain our findings and what the next steps might be.

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. Using the results of a CBC we may also be able to spot the signs of bleeding disorders or other abnormalities.

What do we learn from a CBC?

  • 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 do we learn from a blood chemistry 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.

Will my dog need bloodwork?

Our veterinarians at Mohawk Alley Animal Hospital strongly advise blood tests and lab work during your dog's annual routine exam, even if they seem perfectly healthy. This approach allows us to spot and treat issues early on. Detecting health issues early allows for more effective treatment, preserving your dog's health, saving time, and potentially treating or preventing painful symptoms.

Our veterinary team prioritizes your pet's health and ensures that you understand the necessity of any required tests. We take a proactive approach to your dog's veterinary care, focusing on 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.

Is your dog in need of a routine exam and diagnostics? Contact our vets at Mohawk Alley Animal Hospital in Los Angeles today to schedule an appointment.

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