Why does your pet need blood work?
First, the health and safety of your pet is our foremost concern. Since your pet cannot describe symptoms, we rely on blood tests to give us answers we need, especially prior to surgery and with geriatric pets.
An animal’s instinct is to protect itself and oftentimes sick animals “hide” illness. Therefore, your pet's appearance may be misleading.
For example, a pet with kidney disease may only show obvious signs of illness after losing 75% of kidney function. With simple blood tests, we can identify organ issues before you recognize these signs or symptoms. Sometimes, we refer to this scenario as "catching the disease early."
Routine Blood Work (CBC, Chemistry, Electrolytes)
Hematology tests(CBC) provide information about the blood cells including red and white blood cells and platelets. Red blood cells (RBC) are responsible for carrying oxygen. White blood cells (WBC) are the body’s primary means of fighting infection. Platelets play an important role in the clotting of blood. These tests can detect anemia, infection, and clotting disorders.
Blood chemistry tests provide an inside look at your pets vital organs. Through routine testing of blood chemistries, we can evaluate the status of your pets major internal organs. The kidney and liver function tests are especially important as these organs are responsible for processing and eliminating many of the pharmaceuticals and anesthetics used in practice.
Electrolyte(s) balance is also crucial to maintaining life. Certain diseases or conditions can result in electrolyte imbalances that compromise your pet’s health. For example, vomiting cats often become hypokalemic (decreased Potassium) which can ultimately lead to cardiac arrhythmias if left untreated. Through routine blood work, we can easily diagnose and treat electrolyte abnormalities that might otherwise go undetected.
Specialized Blood Work
Some pets require specialized blood work to either diagnose a disease or monitor a certain medication.
For example, dogs on thyroid medication need blood work to monitor the level of thyroid medicine. As dogs age, the thyroid levels frequently continue to decline.
Any dog taking or not taking heartworm prevention should have a yearly or even more frequent test.
And pets on medications such as anti-inflammatory, thyroid, anti-seizure, blood pressure, diuretic, and urinary incontinence meds need routine blood work every 6-12 months to ensure your pet is receiving the correct dose of medication.
In the end, blood testing allows the veterinarian to assess the general health of your pet as well as monitor the health of vital organs and prescribe the proper dose of medication.