Conducting regular blood tests is an essential component of your pet’s overall wellness program. Blood tests enable us to identify issues before they become apparent or visible, enabling us to take corrective action much sooner — resulting in better health outcomes and lower total costs for pet owners.

This month we wanted to share several key tests and analyses that are conducted using a sample of your pet’s blood — highlighting the benefits and importance of taking regular blood samples.

Happy Pet
When to Conduct Blood Tests
To begin, blood tests are far less invasive and much more affordable than treating an ailment. So, we pay close attention to blood test results as strong leading indicators. We recommend blood tests for your pet in the following situations to confirm our hypotheses — we never order tests without understanding how we would use the results:

Pet Blood Test

First Visits
Upon visiting Kirkwood Animal Hospital for the first time, blood tests provide an important baseline against which we can measure changes over time. Furthermore, tests for puppies and kittens are important as they enable us to identify or rule out potential congenital diseases — and they also provide pre-anesthetic information prior to spaying or neutering.

Wellness Exams
Blood tests enable us to identify issues that do not appear during a physical examination of your pet. This is particularly important for older pets as early detection is vital to developing effective treatment options — limiting the potential for a critical escalation.
We recommend that pets 7 years of age or older have annual blood panels as 20% of these reveal abnormalities.

Pet Illnesses
When your pet is sick, understanding their blood is essential. The blood test can reveal latent indicators of illnesses, infection, disease or injury. With this information, we can speed your pet’s recovery.

Pre-Surgery
If your pet requires surgery, it’s vital to assess surgical risk and understand the current performance level of key organs to determine the appropriate quantity of anesthesia. Particular attention will be paid to liver and kidney metrics to determine safe dosages.

New Medications
Just as with pre-surgery, blood tests reveal liver and kidney performance and help us understand the ability of new medications to be safely and effectively metabolized.

Test: Heartworm

Heartworm is a serious affliction that can impact your pet. Pets that contract heartworm are exposed to a lengthy treatment and recovery process. And, unfortunately, not all pets survive. The good news is that prevention is easy and effective requiring only a single chewable tablet or topical treatment once a month.

Heat Index

But before preventative medicine can be prescribed, your pet must be free of larvae and microfilaria (microscopic worms) which can be seen under a microscope. If none are found, your pet may continue their preventative medicine. However, if larvae or microfilaria are detected, a different treatment requiring Melarsomine must be precisely administered to gradually kill the heartworm and allow your pet’s body to absorb the dead parasites.

Test: Complete Blood Count (or CBC)
The Complete Blood Count, or CBC, reveals your dog’s hydration status, anemia, infection, blood clotting ability and immune system response. This test is performed by providing a sample of your pet’s blood to an external laboratory. This test is essential for dogs exhibiting symptoms like fever, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, pale gums or loss of appetite. If your dog requires surgery, this test can also detect bleeding disorders or other unseen abnormalities. Specifically, a Complete Blood Count provides detailed information including:

  • Hematocrit (HCT): This test measures the percentage of red blood cells to detect anemia and hydration levels
  • Hemoglobin and Mean Corpulscular Hemoglobin Concentration (Hb and MCHC): These are the oxygen-carrying pigments of red blood cells
  • White Blood Cell count (WBC): This measures the body’s immune cells. Increases or decreases in the WBC indicate certain diseases or infections
  • 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 may indicate allergic or parasitic conditions
  • Platelet count (PLT): This test measures cells that form blood clots
  • Reticulocytes (RETICS): These are immature red blood cells. High levels indicate regenerative anemia
  • Fibrinogen (FIBR): This test provides important information about blood clotting. High levels may indicate a dog is 30 to 40 days pregnant


Test: Blood Chemistry

Blood Chemistries, or blood serum tests, evaluate organ function, electrolyte status, hormone levels and more. These tests are important to evaluating the health of older dogs, those with signs of vomiting, diarrhea or toxin exposure, as well as dogs receiving long-term medications and general health before anesthesia. This test is also performed by an external laboratory.

Pet Bloodwork
There is a long list (more than 20) indicators that we use to help identify or exclude particular diseases, conditions, or organ concerns. Please click here to read more. The Blood Chemistry test is an essential diagnostic and confirmation tool that enables us to further understand what might be impacting your pet. If we request this test, we encourage you to authorize it if you are able.


Summary

As with people, blood tests are vital to early detection and cost-effective health treatment of your pet. We encourage you to ask questions if we suggest a blood test. We’ll share with you our hypotheses, and how we believe the blood test results will help us effectively diagnose and quickly place your pet on the road to wellness.

Future newsletters will focus upon other tests non-blood related tests that we employ to help keep your pet healthy.

As always, please contact us if you have any questions.