Understanding your pet's blood work.
Blood tests help us evaluate your pets systemic condition. Blood tests are often recommended prior to an animal undergoing anesthesia, to obtain baseline values, to determine causes of illness, to monitor drug therapy, and to screen for common diseases. General blood work tests can help identify underlying medical conditions that may complicate anesthesia or surgery. Diseases caught in their earliest stages allow early intervention and the best opportunity for successful treatment. The following is a list of common blood tests to help you understand your pet's test results.
Complete blood count (CBC)
This is the most common blood test performed on pets and people. A CBC gives information on hydration status, anemia, infection, the blood's clotting ability, and the ability of the immune system to respond. This test is often performed on pets with fevers, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, pale gums, or loss of appetite. If your pet needs surgery, a CBC can detect bleeding disorders or other unseen abnormalities.
- HCT (hematocrit) measures the percentage of red blood cells to detect anemia and dehydration.
- Hb and MCHC (hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration) are the oxygen-carrying pigments of red blood cells.
- WBC (white blood cell count) measures the body's immune cells. Increases or decreases indicate certain diseases or infections.
- GRANULOCYTES are specific types of white blood cells.
- LYMPHOCYTES/MONOCYTES: white blood cells that can indicate viral disease among others.
- EOSINOPHILS are a specific type of white blood cells. Elevations can indicate allergic or parasitic conditions.
- PLATELET COUNT measures cells that aid in blood clotting.
- RETICULOCYTES are immature red blood cells. High levels indicate regenerative anemia.
- FIBRINOGEN is a clotting factor. High levels can indicate inflammation or DIC.
Common blood serum tests evaluate organ function, electrolyte status, hormone levels, and more. These are useful to establish cause of illness, medication side effects and overall health status.
- ALBUMIN Is a serum protein that helps evaluate hydration, hemorrhage, and intestinal, liver, and kidney disease.
- ALKP (alkaline phosphatase) elevations may indicate liver damage, Cushing's disease, and active bone growth in young pets.
- ALT (alanine aminotransferase) is a sensitive indicator of active liver damage but doesn't indicate the cause.
- AMYLASE elevations show pancreatitis or kidney disease.
- AST (aspartate aminotransferase) increases may indicate liver, heart, or skeletal muscle damage.
- BUN (blood urea nitrogen) indicates kidney function. An increased blood level is called azotemia and can be caused by kidney, liver, and heart disease, urethral obstruction, shock, and dehydration.
- CALCIUM deviations can indicate a variety of diseases. Tumors, hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease, and low albumin can cause Ca deviations.
- CHOLESTEROL is used to supplement diagnosis of hypothyroidism, liver disease, Cushing's disease, and diabetes mellitus.
- CHLORIDE is an electrolyte often lost with vomiting and Addison's disease. Elevations often indicate dehydration.
- Cortisol is a hormone that is measured in tests for Cushing's disease (the low-dose dexamethasone suppression test) and Addison's disease (ACTH stimulation test).
- CREATININE reveals kidney function. This test helps distinguish between kidney and non-kidney causes of elevated BUN.
- GGT (gamma glutamyl transferase) is an enzyme that indicates liver disease or corticosteroid excess.
- GLOBULIN is a blood protein that often increases with chronic inflammation and certain disease states.
- GLUCOSE Is blood sugar. Elevated levels may indicate diabetes mellitus. Low levels can cause collapse, seizures, or coma.
- K (potassium) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive urination. Increased levels may indicate kidney failure, Addison's disease, dehydration, and urethral obstruction. High levels can lead to cardiac arrest.
- LIPASE is an enzyme that may indicate pancreatitis.
- Na (sodium) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea, and kidney and Addison's disease. This test helps indicate hydration status.
- PHOSPHORUS elevations are often associated with kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and bleeding disorders.
- TOTAL BILIRUBIN elevations may indicate liver or hemolytic disease. This test helps identify bile duct problems and certain types of anemia.
- Total Protein is the level of blood proteins, high levels can indicate dehydration and provides additional information about the liver, kidneys, and infectious diseases.
- T4 (thyroxine) is a thyroid hormone. Decreased levels can signal hypothyroidism in dogs, while high levels Indicate hyperthyroidism in cats. Additional thyroid tests may be needed to accurately diagnose a metabolic condition.
There are many other blood tests to evaluate for specific organ function and specific disease conditions. For more information on when these common blood tests should be performed, schedule your pet for a consultation with our doctors, 330.410.4899