Diagnostic tests allow vets to monitor your pet's health. They can help diagnose issues and establish a baseline. Here, our vets in Columbia discuss the purpose of blood tests for dogs and how they can help us care for your furry friend.

Blood Tests for Dogs

Blood tests make it simple for your vet to track your dog's health and address potential issues before they become a bigger concern.

The sooner issues are diagnosed, the quicker treatment can begin, allowing for the best possible outcome. It is important to conduct blood tests for healthy pets during routine exams. These tests help establish normal baseline values for comparison in the future, especially as your pet gets older. Below, we further detail what we learned about your pet while performing blood tests in our diagnostic laboratory.

Why are blood tests important for your dog's health?

Two standard tests are a complete blood count (CBC) and a complete blood chemistry panel (blood serum test), which includes electrolytes and urinalysis. The CBC tests for anemia, inflammation, and infection. Additionally, it can predict the immune system's response and the ability to form blood clots. By analyzing the chemistry panel and electrolytes, your veterinarian can determine the health and proper functioning of your pet's liver, kidneys, and pancreas.

This crucial laboratory work can detect and identify complex issues within a dog's internal systems. Dogs' blood tests can identify the source of hormonal-chemical responses, whether internal or external stimuli trigger them. A veterinarian may interpret this as a potential issue with the dog's endocrine system.

When are blood tests requested?

We might use blood tests in situations such as:

  • Your pet's first vet visit (to establish baseline data)
  • Pre-anesthetic testing before surgical procedures
  • Semi-annual routine exams as preventive care
  • During senior exams, while looking for age-related conditions in the earliest stages
  • Pre-surgical testing to identify your dog's risk of complications during surgery
  • Before starting a new medication
  • If your dog is showing symptoms or acting abnormally or 'off'
  • To help assess your pet's condition during an emergency visit

How long does blood work usually take at a veterinary clinic?

At our veterinary diagnostic laboratory in Columbia, we can perform various tests and get results quickly. These tests usually only take a few minutes and may save your dog's life—not to mention future treatment or symptom management expenses. If your dog has additional testing, it may take a little longer. Your primary care vet will explain the purpose of your visit to our specialty veterinary hospital and what to expect beforehand.

Our vets perform blood tests in-house using cutting-edge technology and equipment. They will explain the reasons behind specific tests, discuss the results, and address any questions.

Blood Tests to Keep Your Dog Healthy

At Maury County Veterinary Hospital, we are committed to ensuring that you fully understand your dog's blood tests and results. Treating and managing health issues requires collaboration between our veterinary team and caring pet owners. We will always take time at the end of the visit to explain our findings and what the next steps might be.

Your dog's bloodwork typically includes a complete blood count (CBC) or blood chemistry (serum test). Blood tests like a CBC help diagnose conditions in dogs with symptoms like diarrhea, fever, weakness, or loss of appetite. The results of a CBC may also help us spot the signs of bleeding disorders or other abnormalities.

What does a CBC (complete blood count) show us?

  • Hematocrit (HCT): This test measures the percentage of red blood cells to detect hydration or anemia.
  • Hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (Hb and MCHC): These are the pigments in red blood cells that carry oxygen.
  • White blood cell count (WBC): This test measures 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 (Retic Count): High levels of immature red blood cells can point to regenerative anemia.
  • Fibrinogen:  This protein helps stop bleeding by helping blood clots to form. High levels are generally associated with cardiovascular diseases.

What do we learn from blood tests?

Blood chemistries (serum tests) reveal information about a dog's organ function (liver, kidneys, and pancreas), hormone levels, electrolyte status, and other factors.  They can also be used to determine the health of older dogs, perform general health checks before anesthesia, and monitor dogs on long-term medications.

How much are blood tests for dogs?

As with many other veterinary care services, the costs vary from clinic to clinic and pet to pet. Several factors contribute to the final cost.

This can be the clinic's location, the practitioner's expertise, or the equipment used. Your pet's age and species also affect the final amount you will pay. Please speak with your vet to discuss your pet's estimated cost and a bill breakdown.

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.

Is it time to bring your dog in for their annual exam? Contact our veterinarians at Maury County Veterinary Hospital in Columbia today to schedule an appointment.