At our hospitals, bloodwork is analyzed for your dog either urgently in hospital using our suite of laboratory analysis machines or at a specialized reference laboratory. The determination will be based on your dog's condition, the urgency of the results and whether or not specialized tests are required for your dog.
The following situations may lead to blood tests for dogs:
- On the first veterinary visit: We establish healthy baseline tests and check for any congenital abnormalities or potential concerns.
- During wellness examinations: This is recommended as part of a thorough physical examination because dog blood work, along with other bodily fluids like urine, can help identify conditions the examination portion of a physical can not.
- If a dog seems not quite right: Dog blood tests are necessary for dogs that are not displaying specific signs of illness, disease or injury but are acting abnormally. Since dogs cannot talk, their bloodwork sometimes speaks volumes.
- Pre-surgical tests: Dog bloodwork is used to determine the general health of the liver and kidneys and other organs, which helps determine the safest anesthetic protocol.
- During senior wellness exams: Dog blood tests are essential for mature and senior dogs as part of their wellness examinations. Bloodwork often identifies issues invisible outside the dog and early detection saves lives.
At our hospitals, blood tests for dogs are performed both on premises using our in-house laboratory and at a specialized outside laboratory. On-site laboratory allows us to urgently determine and diagnose health concerns for more rapid and successful medical intervention. The outside laboratory is utilized for screening bloodwork and specialized tests and typically carries a slightly longer turn around time.
Types of Dog Blood Work
We analyze bloodwork to assess a Complete Blood Count (CBC), including red and white cell count, immunity status, and the measure of hemoglobin, or blood oxygen carrying ability. We also examine hydration status, anemia, infection, blood clotting ability, and immune system response. This is essential for dogs that have symptoms like fever, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, pale gums, or loss of appetite. A CBC can also detect bleeding disorders or other unseen abnormalities as part of a pre-surgery risk assessment.
We analyze chemistries, electrolyte status, hormone levels, and for hyperthyroidism, as well as the reverse condition, hypoyroidism, or a low thyroid function, that can indicate disease in a dog's body. These tests are important for evaluating the health of older dogs, dogs with signs of vomiting, diarrhea or toxin exposure, and dogs receiving long-term medications. We also test to assess general health before anesthesia.
Additionally, we analyze:
- Stool Samples
What Can Be Learned From Dog Blood Tests
The results of dog blood tests are essential to diagnose and treati medical conditions both within the blood itself, and in organs such as the kidneys and liver. During a blood test for dogs, various chemicals in the bloodstream are analyzed, such as:
- Albumin levels, which reflect liver issues
- Potential issues with the patient's endocrine system
Once we establish a correlation, we can order any subsequent procedures necessary for treating the condition. Blood tests serve as very valuable tools in a veterinarian's toolkit for helping to detect, identify and diagnose illness or disease.
Understanding Your Dog's Bloodwork
After we process and analyze a dog bloodwork sample, the next step is to help our patient's human caretaker fully understand any abnormal results. Your dog's blood work allows our veterinarians to evaluate the following:
- Albumin (ALB): This is a serum protein that helps evaluate hydration, hemorrhage and intestinal, and liver disease.
- Alkaline phosphatase (ALKP): Elevations in this test may indicate liver damage, Cushing’s disease or active bone growth in a young dog. We can also see this commonly elevated secondary to dental disease.
- Alanine aminotransferase (ALT): This test may determine active liver damage, but does not indicate the cause.
- Amylase (AMYL): Elevations in this test indicate pancreatitis or kidney disease.
- Aspartate aminotransferase (AST): Increases in this test may indicate liver, heart or skeletal muscle damage.
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN): This test determines kidney function. An increased level is called azotemia and can be caused by kidney, liver and heart disease as well as urethral obstruction, shock or dehydration.
- Calcium (Ca): Changes in the normal level of this test can indicate a variety of diseases. Tumors, hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease, and low albumin are just a few of the conditions that alter serum calcium.
- Cholesterol (CHOL): This test is used to supplement the diagnosis of hypothyroidism, liver disease, Cushing’s disease, and diabetes mellitus.
- Chloride (Cl): Chloride is an electrolyte that is typically lost with symptoms like vomiting or illnesses such as Addison’s disease. Elevations often indicate dehydration.
- Coristol (CORT): 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 (CREA): This test reveals kidney function and helps distinguish between kidney and non-kidney causes of elevated BUN.
- Gamma Glutamy transferase (GGT): This is an enzyme that indicates liver disease or corticosteroid excess.
- Globulin (GLOB): This is a blood protein that often increases with chronic inflammation and certain disease states.
- Glucose (GLU): Glucose is blood sugar. Elevated levels may indicate diabetes mellitus. Low levels can cause collapse, seizures or coma.
- Potassium (K): This is an electrolyte typically lost with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or excessive urination. Increased levels may indicate kidney failure, Addison’s disease, dehydration or urethral obstruction. High levels can lead to cardiac arrest.
- Lipase (LIP): Lipase is an enzyme that may indicate pancreatitis.
- Sodium (Na): Sodium is an electrolyte often lost with signs vomiting, diarrhea, kidney disease, and Addison’s disease. This test helps indicate hydration status.
- Phosphorus (PHOS): Elevations in this test are often associated with kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and bleeding disorders.
- Total bilirubin (TBIL): Elevations in this test may indicate liver or hemolytic disease. This test helps identify bile duct problems and certain types of anemia.
- Total protein: This test indicates hydration status and provides additional information about the liver, kidneys and infectious diseases.
- Thyroxine (T4): Thyroxine is a thyroid hormone.