When you get sick, you can tell the doctor what you’re experiencing – how bad you feel and when the symptoms began. What’s more, you can answer the doctor’s questions to help make the right diagnosis. However, evaluating a sick pet is much more complicated. They can’t talk, and it’s usually how they act or look that tells you something is wrong. This is why blood work can benefit your pet’s health and is a valuable diagnostic tool. It can help verify organ health, determine causes of illness, and ensure your pet stays healthy and happy.
Blood Work Can Benefit Your Pet’s Health
Regular blood testing allows your veterinarian to examine organ functions and assess symptoms that may not be detectable to the naked eye. This includes indicators of diabetes or liver disease. Blood work in healthy pets helps your vet establish a baseline, that is, a chemical picture of how your pet looks when healthy. The results of these tests help determine what is “normal” for your pet. Then if the pet becomes ill, blood work can establish the extent of deviation from his/her normal.
Blood work can also uncover potential medical problems before they become a bigger issue. It’s not ideal to wait until your pet becomes ill and is showing obvious symptoms of a disease. Advanced diseases are usually associated with complications that make treatment harder and more costly. Remember, the earlier most diseases are diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis.
When Basic Blood Work Should Be Done
The frequency of testing is based on your pet’s age, species, overall health, and the type of blood work being run.
Blood work can be recommended:
- Before most anesthetic procedures
- As part of a wellness exam for baseline values
- Before starting a new medication
- When your pet is ill and diagnosis is needed
- To monitor existing conditions
- If your pet is taking long term medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, steroids, or NSAIDs.
If you see any changes in your pet’s behavior, it may be a sign that he or she needs blood work. This could be loss of appetite, lethargy or weight loss, increased thirst or urination.
Understanding Your Pet’s Blood Work
Typical lab work for pets includes a complete blood count (CBC), a urinalysis, and serum chemistry.
A CBC is an actual count of the various types of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets present in a specific volume of blood. This includes analyzing the condition and shape of the cells for health and functionality. This test gives information on hydration status, infection, immune system response, blood clotting ability, viral infections, heartworm, liver function, and anemia. A CBC is essential for pets with symptoms like vomiting, fever, pale gums, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or weakness. If your pet needs surgery, this test can detect unseen abnormalities or bleeding disorders that could cause problems.
Blood chemistries or blood serum tests, screen for metabolic disease. These tests evaluate your pet’s organ function, hormone levels, electrolyte status and more. While they can’t give a specific answer as to what disease your pet might be suffering from, increases in certain enzymes or electrolytes are red flags that tell your vet they need to look deeper.
Urinalysis tests the concentration and pH of a pet’s urine. It also checks for white blood cells, red blood cells, bacteria, protein, casts, and crystals in the urine. The tests reveal hydration status, kidney or bladder disease, infections, diabetes, and other health conditions.
Naples Coast Animal Hospital features a complete in-house laboratory for these tests. We can run the tests during routine or illness care visits, and can also receive immediate results for pets with urgent care needs. To learn more and determine which blood tests can benefit your pets, call us at (239) 500-0105 or visit our website to book an appointment.