Bloodwork and Other Lab Tests for Pets
Laurie Anne Walden, DVM
Laboratory testing of blood, urine, and stool samples is routinely done for animals. Abnormalities often show up on lab tests before an animal has obvious symptoms. Even healthy pets need to be tested regularly for parasites. Well-animal tests can detect problems early and help veterinarians track changes over time. These are some of the reasons your veterinarian might recommend lab tests for your pet:
Complete Blood Count
A complete blood count measures the number, size, and shape of each type of cell in the blood.
Blood Chemistry Panel
Blood chemistry tests measure substances in the blood that indicate changes in organ function or other biological processes. Blood chemistry analysis is run as a panel of many individual tests. A chemistry panel doesn’t always give a diagnosis for a sick animal, but the results can help the veterinarian narrow down the list of possibilities. Veterinary laboratories offer many chemistry panels for different species and diagnostic needs. A small panel that’s sufficient for a young animal before routine surgery might not be appropriate for an ill animal or an older pet. These are a few of the tests commonly included in chemistry panels:
Analysis of the urine includes specific gravity (a measure of urine concentration), pH, chemistry results like glucose and protein levels, and microscopic evaluation for cells, crystals, and bacteria. Urinalysis can reveal urinary tract infection, support a diagnosis of diabetes, and help evaluate the function of the kidneys and other organs. A complete laboratory analysis—especially for a senior pet—should include urinalysis.
Parasites are very common in pet animals (unless they have received regular parasite prevention as recommended by a veterinarian). Many of the parasites that pets carry are contagious to people. At least once a year, pets should have a stool test for intestinal parasites like hookworms and roundworms. Dogs should also have a yearly blood test for heartworm disease.
Public domain image source: National Cancer Institute, Daniel Sone (photographer)
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Laurie Anne Walden, DVM
The contents of this blog are for information only and should not substitute for advice from a veterinarian who has examined the animal. All blog content is copyrighted by Mallard Creek Animal Hospital and may not be copied, reproduced, transmitted, or distributed without permission.