Our vets in Johns Creek recognize that it can be challenging to understand why your dog needs blood tests, and what the results mean. Today, we explain blood tests for dogs and what specific tests can reveal about your canine companion's health.
Why is it important to have blood work done for my dog?
Blood tests are part of your dog's comprehensive preventive care. They can reveal results that indicate the earliest signs of illness before any external symptoms appear, and can help to detect or identify disease or illness. Our Johns Creek veterinarians also use blood test results to diagnose and monitor health conditions.
When symptoms of disease are detected early, prevention, monitoring and treatment can start earlier. Perfectly healthy dogs will also need blood tests during routine exams to track normal baseline values to compare to later, and as your pet ages.
If your dog is exhibiting symptoms of a medical condition, diagnostic blood tests will play an essential role in helping your vet determine the cause of your dog's symptoms.
What do blood tests for dogs reveal?
Common tests include complete blood count (CBC) and a complete blood chemistry panel, including electrolytes and urinalysis. The CBC determines whether conditions such as infection, inflammation or anemia may be present. It can also reveal valuable information about the immune system's response and the body's blood clotting ability.
By interpreting results from the chemistry panel and electrolytes, your vet can determine whether your pet's kidneys, liver and pancreas are in good condition and working as they should.
This essential lab work can also detect and help to identify complex issues that may be present in a dog's internal systems. For example, blood tests for dogs can detect whether hormonal-chemical responses may be occurring as a result of internal or environmental stimuli. This tells your vet there may be an issue with your dog's endocrine system.
When will my dog need a blood test?
Your vet may recommend that your dog have blood work done under numerous circumstances, including:
- Your pet's first visit to the vet (to establish baseline data and for pre-anesthetic testing before a spaying or neutering procedure)
- During semi-annual routine exams as preventive care
- During senior/geriatric exams to check for age-related illnesses and conditions in their earliest stages
- As testing before surgical procedures to determine your dog's risk of complications during surgery
- Prior to starting a new medication
- To help assess your pet's condition during an emergency visit
- If your dog is acting abnormally, or "off", or showing symptoms of illness or disease
How long does blood work take at a vet?
Thanks to our in-house lab, our vets can perform a variety of tests and get results quickly. The tests themselves only take a few minutes and may save the life of your dog - not to mention future expenses for treatment or symptom management in the future. Some tests may take somewhat longer. Your vet can provide an accurate timeframe.
We leverage advanced veterinary technology to ensure our patients will have the best possible treatment outcomes. Because blood tests at Johns Creek Veterinary Clinic are done in-house, your vet will be able to explain why specific tests are needed and their results, and address any questions you may have.
If the test results show abnormalities and more blood tests are required, there will be fewer trips back and forth and time can be saved.
How much are blood tests for dogs?
The cost of blood tests for your canine companion will vary depending on a number of factors, such as the number of tests needed and their complexity. The team at our Johns Creek animal hospital will be able to provide you with a cost estimate.
What do my dog's blood test results mean?
At Johns Creek Veterinary Clinic, we will always take the time to explain your dog’s blood tests and their results, as treatment and management of health issues are a team effort between our veterinary team and loving pet owners.
Typically, your dog's bloodwork will include a complete blood count (CBC) or blood chemistry (serum test). The CBC will be important for dogs that have pale gums, or are experiencing vomiting, fever, weakness or loss of appetite. Blood tests for dogs with diarrhea also fall into this category.
A CBC can also detect bleeding disorders or other abnormalities that may not be identified otherwise.
A CBC reveals detailed information, including:
- Hematocrit (HCT): With this test, we can identify the percentage of red blood cells to detect hydration or anemia.
- Hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (Hb and MCHC): These are pigments of red blood cells that carry oxygen.
- White blood cell count (WBC): With this test, we measure the body’s immune cells. Certain diseases or infections can cause WBC to increase or decrease.
- Granulocytes and lymphocytes/monocytes (GRANS and L/M): These are specific types of white blood cells.
- Eosinophils (EOS): These are a specific type of white blood cells that can indicate health conditions due to allergies or parasites.
- Platelet count: (PLT): This test measures cells that form blood clots.
- Reticulocytes (RETICS): High levels of immature red blood cells can point to regenerative anemia.
- Fibrinogen (FIBR): We can glean important information about blood clotting from this test. High levels can indicate a dog is 30 to 40 days pregnant.
What Blood Chemistries Reveal (Blood Serum Test):
Blood chemistries (blood serum tests) give us insight into a dog’s organ function (liver, kidneys and pancreas), hormone levels, electrolyte status and more.
We can assess the health of older dogs, do general health assessments prior to anesthesia or monitor dogs receiving long-term medications.
These tests also help us evaluate senior dogs’ health and those with symptoms of diseases (such as Addison’s, diabetes, kidney diseases or others), diarrhea, vomiting or toxin exposure.
Does my dog need blood tests and lab work?
At Johns Creek Veterinary Clinic our vets recommend blood tests be conducted and lab work done as a proactive measure during an annual routine exam, even if your dog seems perfectly healthy. This is because the sooner we catch health issues, the more effectively we can treat them, preserve your dog’s health, save valuable time, and potentially treat or prevent painful symptoms.
Our veterinary team will always advocate for your pet’s health, explain any tests that are needed and why, and take a preventive approach to your dog’s veterinary care.
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.