Despite our best wishes, our pets can’t speak to us. So what happens when something seems… off? You take them in to the vet and if there’s no obvious cause one of the first things your vet is going to whip up is some blood work! Why? Because blood work can tell your vet what your pet is incapable of, and point to a likely cause, and solution to their illness. This time on the Acoma Animal Clinic blog, blood work and your pet!
When Should Blood Work Be Done?
You may be curious when performing blood work is necessary. There are a few situations where getting blood work done is the right call.
Illness or Emergency Situations
The most obvious time for blood work to be performed is when your pet is experiencing an illness or there is an emergency situation. Blood work is often the first step to diagnose what’s going on, giving immediate information that will help the vet make decisions when Every second counts!
Prior to Surgery
While not the most obvious, blood will often be done before your pet gets any sort of surgery or procedure that requires anesthesia. This is necessary so that the vet team can safely sedate your pet, identifying any abnormalities that might require something different.
As we mentioned, changes in the blood can be one of the first indications of underlying health changes. Doing blood work as a part of standard preventative care and screenings can discover diseases before it’s to late, or help you avoid them all together!
For certain things treatment will mean surgery or being put on a round of antibiotics. When that happens it’s important to monitor the changes afterwards to be sure everything is returning to normal. For instance, if there is a high liver enzyme that points to some type of infection, once the antibiotics have run their course it’s important to look at the blood again to verify that the enzyme has decreased.
What Kind of Tests Should I Expect?
When your vet runs some blood work there are a few different kinds of tests that are routinely performed. They are:
A complete blood count test, or CBC, is used to determine if your pet has an infection, if there is inflammation, or if your pet is anemic. CBC can also determine if your pet is suffering from leukemia, stress, poor hydration, or an inability to fight infections.
A CBC will test all of these:
- Red Blood Cells
Red blood cells (RBCs) are the most numerous and
longest-living of the different types of blood cells; they typically make
up almost half of the blood’s volume. RBCs contain a special protein
called hemoglobin (HGB) that binds to the oxygen in the lungs and
enables the RBCs to transport oxygen as it travels through the rest of
These are immature RBCs increased during times of
increased red cell production, such as blood loss or immune-mediated
- White blood cells
White blood cells are primarily responsible for
fighting infections. There are five different types of white bloods
cells and each one performs specific functions to keep the body
Platelets play a critical role in preventing bleeding.
Complete Blood Chemistry Panel
A complete blood chemistry panel looks at liver, kidneys, pancreas, and other bodily functions like hydration, electrolytes and blood sugar. These show enzymes from these functions and how your pet’s body is performing.
A urinalysis looks for infections and inflammation in your pets urinary tract.
Thyroid Function Test
Thyroid disease is very common in older pets, so testing to make sure the gland is functioning correctly is a common test.
These are just the routine tests, your vet very well may recommend other additional tests to your pets specific needs.
Most blood work can be performed at the clinic so results can usually get back to the vet, and you, quickly! Your vet will call you back within the next few days and give you the results, normal or abnormal. These results will immediately rule out some potential conditions and point to others. Getting these results fast can help you get your pet on the mend quickly!
It’s important to remember that blood work should be a part of regular exams and physicals. Some things may spike in the blood long before any other symptoms develop so catching them fast will help your pet get on the mend quicker, before having any worse symptoms or complications.
Does your pet need a routine exam and blood work? Call your vet today!