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Understanding Blood Tests for Dogs

Has your dog's veterinarian recommended blood tests for your pet? Today, our team of veterinarians in Babcock Ranch will discuss blood testing for dogs to help pet owners understand how they can detect potential health issues in their pets.

Why Dogs Need Bloodwork

Pet owners often wonder why their dog needs bloodwork or other diagnostic tests if their pet appears healthy. However, these tests are essential for your pet's overall care.

Diagnostic tests can provide valuable information about your dog's health and are necessary before certain procedures, such as dental surgery.

At Animal Hospital at Babcock, we have a diagnostic lab where we can perform a variety of common and specialized blood tests to assess your pet's health, monitor their well-being, and diagnose illnesses, including cancer.

Although the value of bloodwork may not always be clear, it plays a crucial role in your pet's health and well-being.

What's Involved in Bloodwork for Dogs

As a pet owner, it's important to understand that not all blood tests are the same. It would be best always to ask your vet which test would be performed and why it was necessary for your pet. Throughout the site, our veterinarians can explain your pet's condition, any necessary diagnostic tests, and what we can expect to learn from them in a way that is easy to understand.

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

A CBC test measures the white blood cell count, red blood cell count, and platelet count and also provides data about the size and shape of red and white blood cells.

A chemistry panel assesses values related to the function of organs such as the liver and kidneys, as well as electrolyte levels and other critical enzymes that can be measured in the bloodstream. 

Fortunately, we have advanced tools and technologies in our in-house vet lab to help diagnose your pet's medical issues accurately. Early assessment and treatment are crucial when your pet feels unwell, or their health condition is rapidly changing. With our experienced staff and state-of-the-art equipment, we can evaluate your pet's health and present treatment options as soon as possible.

How Long Does Blood Work Take at a Vet?

Thanks to our in-house laboratory, our veterinarians can perform a wide range of tests and obtain results quickly. Most tests are relatively quick and take just a few minutes. However, some tests may take longer than others, and your vet can give you a more accurate timeframe.

How much are blood tests for dogs?

The precise cost of your dog's blood work is based on a few factors, such as which tests are needed, where the hospital is located, and others. 

Note that the price of these critical tests covers the special equipment needed to conduct the tests, specially trained staff, and laboratory costs to process them.

We work hard to keep our prices affordable so that we can provide blood and diagnostic testing for as many pets as possible.

What Bloodwork Can Tell Us 

What insights we can gain into your pet's health depends on the type of bloodwork ordered. For example, we can order a variety of CBC and chemistry panels that can bring us different data depending on what we need to measure and what we are hoping to learn about your pet's health.  

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

White blood cells have different responses to threats faced by the immune system. A CBC (Complete Blood Count) test can analyze the total number of white blood cells and identify the number of each type present in your pet's blood sample.

Red blood cells (RBCs) carry oxygen to the body's tissues. A CBC test counts the RBCs in your pet's blood and determines how well they transport oxygen based on the hemoglobin levels (a protein that carries oxygen) in your pet's blood.

Platelets help with blood clotting. If your dog has a low number of platelets, their blood may clot slowly, leading to abnormal or excessive bleeding. A CBC test will count the number of platelets in your dog's blood.

A routine CBC test provides numerical values associated with the counts of cells in the samples obtained by a diagnostic machine. A CBC test with pathology review is sent to a clinical pathologist, who assesses a blood sample under a microscope to confirm the machine's provided counts and check if any abnormal cells are present. Abnormal cells can indicate serious health problems such as infections, leukemia, anemia, poisoning, or parasites.

A CBC test is performed before surgery because it can detect low platelet levels. Platelets play a crucial role in stopping bleeding, and a certain level must be maintained to avoid excessive blood loss. Low platelet levels may also indicate serious infections, tick-borne illnesses, or life-threatening diseases.

Blood Chemistry Profile

A blood chemistry profile can provide us with a wealth of information about the compounds present in your pet's bloodstream. By examining this profile, we can determine how well your dog's kidneys are functioning and whether there are any abnormalities in the renal system due to dehydration or obstruction.

The liver also plays a vital role in your dog's health. Elevated chemical values in this area can indicate liver disease or abnormalities in other organs. Additionally, the test can identify any abnormal electrolyte levels, which may be related to seizures, gastrointestinal disease, or other illnesses and conditions.

Blood protein levels are also critical indicators of your dog's physical health. They contribute to the functioning of the immune system while helping the blood to clot properly. A blood chemistry profile can provide valuable information about total protein, albumin, and globulin levels.

However, it's important to note that while bloodwork can provide us with a lot of information, it is not always an indicator of cancer or cancer spread in your pet's body. Nevertheless, CBC and chemistry panels can confirm that your pet's body responds to the prescribed treatment plan without complications such as anemia or elevated kidney values. If left undetected, these issues can lead to blood loss, weakness, and, eventually, organ failure.

Regular Blood Testing

Understanding the importance of blood tests for your dog's health is crucial. You might wonder how often your pet should have these tests as part of their health checkup.

Since our furry companions' lifespans are shorter than ours, it is recommended to have veterinary blood tests done annually for healthy pets. Semi-annual tests are typically the best option for dogs approaching their geriatric years.

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

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.

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

New Patients Welcome

Animal Hospital at Babcock is welcoming new patients. Our team provides compassionate care to you and your animal companions. Book your appointment today!


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