Several tests are routinely performed when blood work is recommended. This includes:
- Infectious disease screening identifies if your pet has been exposed to parasitic infection, such as tick-borne diseases, heartworm or other infectious diseases.
- A complete blood chemistry panel, including electrolytes, provides information about your pet’s liver, kidneys and pancreas as well as other functions of the body, such as blood sugar and hydration.
- A complete blood count (CBC) can identify infection, inflammation and anemia.
- A thyroid function test detects whether or not your pet’s thyroid gland is functioning properly. Thyroid disease is very common in older cats and dogs. Your veterinarian may recommend additional tests.
ALP: This is a liver enzyme that can be elevated for a number of reasons that can be discussed with your veterinarian.
ALT: This is a liver enzyme that is elevated when liver cells are damaged for any reason.
Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN): The BUN may be elevated in patients with kidney damage, or in patients that are dehydrated. Lower than normal BUN may be seen in patients with severe liver disease.
Creatinine: Similar to BUN, elevate creatinine is frequently a sign of kidney damage. Unlike BUN, we do not generally worry about creatinine being “too low”.
Glucose (‘Blood Sugar”): Mildly elevated blood sugar is common in hospitalized patients, but very high values could indicate diabetes. Blood sugar that is too low is a common finding in sick puppies, or in diabetic patients who have been given too much insulin.
Total Protein: Total protein can be elevated if a patient is dehydrated, or with certain types of uncommon cancers. When the total protein is too low, the patient may be losing protein, usually from the cardiovascular system or the gastrointestinal tract.
CBC- Major Components:
White Blood Cell Count: Too few white blood cells may result from certain types of infection or from some types of cancer. Too many white cells can indicate infection or inflammation
Red Blood Cell Count: Too few red blood cells (anemia) can have many causes. Most commonly, we see mild anemia in patients with chronic sources of inflammation, such as, dental disease. Less frequently, we see patients with too many red blood cells, usually due to dehydration.
Platelet Count: Platelets are cells that help the blood clot. If a patient does not have enough platelets, the blood may not clot properly, and a patient could bleed excessively during a procedure
Thyroxine (T4): a hormone produced by the thyroid gland, is essential for growth and metabolism. As your pet ages, thyroid function can become abnormal and cause signs of illness. Biochemistry tests can indicate hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
When can I expect results?
Many of the tests routinely recommended can be performed in-clinic, providing results quickly and allowing for immediate treatment of your pet, but some routine screening tests will be sent to the reference laboratory which provides results often the next day. Normal results can rule out certain diseases immediately, so you can worry less. Your Veterinarian will also store this information for the life of your pet and use it to understand your unique pet better. If results are abnormal, your veterinarian can make decisions about next steps, including treatment and additional tests. This saves you time as well as trips back and forth to your veterinarian, and gives you answers that may help your pet right away.