Blood Tests | An Essential Part in the Diagnosis of Diseases in Pets

Making Sense of Blood Tests for Your Pet Dog or Cat

Your pet has been acting lethargic latley and you don’t know why. It’s been a while since he last fetched the newspaper or joined you on your morning run. You are becoming concerned and not sure wha tto do. A colleague of yours suggests that you get your dog’s blood tested. What for, you ask? How will getting your dog’s blood tested really help, and what will such a test reveal? Are blood tests for dogs, or for that matter, for cats and other pets, same as those for humans? We discuss this in detail. Do read on!

Blood Tests for Pets

Blood of all living creatures, humans as well as animals, is made of various types of cells in different combinations and each type in varying percentages and status. Blood is examined in different ways and each blood test reveals specific information that is very important. Getting your dog’s blood tested will reveal an incredible amount of information that will help you in reaching a better understanding of the reasons for him not being his usual active self over the past few days and weeks. We discuss next the most important blood tests for pets, such as, Complete Blood Count (CBC), Hematocrit (HCT) or Packed Cell Volume (PCV), Serum Chemistry Profile and Total Protein (TP).

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

A CBC test is the very first blood test that your pet will be subjected to. In fact, this is also the most common blood tests for humans as well. This test helps understand whether your dog is dehydrated, caught an infection, whether there’s a clotting of blood, is he affected by anemia, and whether the immune system of your dog is working perfectly. Veterinarians subject any pets that are affected with diarrhea, vomiting, fever, a decrease in appetite or weakened gums to the CBC test. Even before a surgery, a CBC test is administered so that any bleeding disorders may be detected immediately, as well as any abnormalities not observed earlier.

A CBC test involves a Red Blood Cell count (for anemia and to check dehydration), a White Blood Cell count (to check immunity, stress, infection, hormonal deficiencies and imbalance), a Platelets Count (to detect clotting of blood, if any).

Hematocrit (HCT) or Packed Cell Volume (PCV)

If your veterinarian suspects your pet dog or cat to have been affected by anemia, he will have a Hematocrit (HCT) or Packed Cell Volume (PCV) blood test done. In a HCT blood test, your pet’s blood will be drawn into a tiny glass tube, which will then be shaken vigorously, or spun in a centrifuge. Then, the height of the column of red blood cells at the bottom of the tube is measured. If this is less than 40% of the height of the tube, then it is immediately noted that your pet suffers from a deficiency of red blood cells, and so, is anemic. The next part of the HCT or PCV test is to measure the amount of hemoglobin in the blood. Low hemoglobin levels correspond to a low hematocrit level, which is because of various causes such as a hemorrhage in the intestinal tract, presence of blood sucking parasites, or internal bleeding due to an injury.

Serum Chemistry Profile

A serum chemistry profile is very similar to complete blood count or CBC test. It involves a panel of tests done on your pet dog or cat’s blood, that creates an extensive database on your pet’s health, which gives a lot of answers you are looking for concerning your dog’s current illness. It detects any abnormality that has gone unobserved so far, and indicates well in advance the serious health issues likely to materialize if preventive action isn’t taken immediately. These tests are also known as SMA-20, Chem-20, Blood Chemistry Panel and Comprehensive Medical Panel (CMP). A Serum Chemistry Profile is particularly useful to know if there are any defects in your pet’s kidneys or liver, if there are any imbalances in the blood sugar, cholesterol or calcium levels, if there’s an electrolyte deficiency and whether your pet suffers from a lack of proteins.

Total Protein (TP)

A Total Protein (TP) blood test conducted on your pet reveals a plenty of information. First, it reveals whether your pet’s kidneys and liver are in perfect condition or not. Then it helps your vet understand whether your pet dog or cat is properly hydrated. Total Protein (TP) is a combination of globulin and albumin. Your pet dog or cat’s globulin level is measured, an imbalance of which indicates a serious infection or a chronic inflammation. Albumin imbalance, on the other hand, is a surefire indicator that there’s a problem in your pet’s liver or that there is some hormonal imbalance.