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Understanding Blood Tests for Dogs

As a new pet owner, you may feel anxious about taking your pet for a blood test. To help ease your concerns, our Nashua vets explain the importance of blood tests for dogs.

Why Blood Work is Important for Dogs

Your veterinarian can conduct blood tests as a part of preventive care. Blood tests indicate the earliest signs of illness before any outward symptoms appear. This way, your vet can detect, identify, diagnose, and treat the illness. 

When we detect diseases early, prevention and treatment can be administered earlier. Healthy pets also need blood tests during routine exams to obtain normal baseline values to compare to later, and as your pet ages.

Diagnostic blood tests play an essential role in helping your vet determine what's causing your dog's symptoms. 

What Do Blood Tests for Dogs Reveal?

Common blood tests cover a complete blood count, and a complete blood chemistry panel, including electrolytes and urinalysis. The complete blood count identifies whether there is anemia, inflammation, or infection present. It can also indicate immune system response and blood clotting ability.

The chemistry panel and electrolytes tell your vet whether your pet’s liver, kidneys, and pancreas are working well.

Blood tests can also detect and help to identify complex issues within a dog’s internal systems. For example, blood tests for dogs can detect whether internal or environmental stimuli are causing hormonal-chemical responses. This tells a veterinarian there may be a potential problem with the dog’s endocrine system.

When Does My Dog Need a Blood Test?

Your vet may recommend that your dog have blood work done for various reasons, including to:

  • Identify any health conditions that may increase your dog’s risk of complications during surgery (known as pre-surgical testing)
  • Identify any health issues your vet should beware of before prescribing new medication 
  • Assess your pet’s health status during an emergency visit 
  • Identify health conditions that are causing your pet to behave strangely

  • Establish baseline data during your pet’s first vet visit 
  • Determine whether your dog may face any health risks while under anesthesia during a spaying or neutering procedure (known as pre-anesthetic testing) 
  • Update data about your pet’s health status during routine exams as part of preventive care 
  • Identify potential age-related conditions in their earliest stages, as part of senior exams

How Long Does Blood Work Take at A Vet?

Thanks to our in-house lab, our vets can perform a variety of tests and get quick results. Most tests are relatively quick and can take minutes. However, other tests may take longer. Your vet can provide an accurate timeframe.

What Do My Dog's Blood Test Results Mean?

At Animal Hospital of Nashua, we will take the time to explain your dog’s blood tests and results. Treatment and management of health issues are a team effort between our veterinary team and loving pet owners.

Typically, your dog's bloodwork will include a complete blood count or blood chemistry. The complete blood count will be important for dogs that have pale gums or are experiencing vomiting, fever, weakness, or loss of appetite. Blood tests for dogs with diarrhea also fall into this category.

A complete blood test can also detect bleeding disorders or other abnormalities that would not be identified otherwise.

CBC: Complete Blood Count

A complete blood count reveals detailed information, including:

  • White blood cell count (WBC): With this test, we measure 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.
  • Platelet count: (PLT): This test measures cells that form blood clots.
  • Hematocrit (HCT): With this test, we can identify the percentage of red blood cells to detect hydration or anemia.
  • Eosinophils (EOS): These are a specific type of white blood cells that can indicate health conditions due to allergies or parasites.
  • Reticulocytes (RETICS): High levels of immature red blood cells can point to regenerative anemia.
  • Fibrinogen (FIBR): We can glean important information about blood clotting from this test. High levels can indicate a dog is 30 to 40 days pregnant.
  • Hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (Hb and MCHC): These are pigments of red blood cells that carry oxygen.

What Blood Chemistries Reveal:

Blood chemistries or blood serum tests reveal information about a dog's liver, kidneys, and pancreas functions, hormone levels, electrolyte status, and more. The test can be used to assess the health of older dogs. It can also help inform general health assessments before anesthesia or monitor dogs receiving long-term medications.

These tests can help us evaluate senior dogs’ health and those with symptoms of diseases such as Addison’s, diabetes, kidney diseases, or others), diarrhea, vomiting, or toxin exposure.

Does My Dog Need Blood Tests & Lab Work?

Our vets at Animal Hospital of Nashua recommend blood tests and lab work be done during your pet's annual routine exam, even if your dog seems perfectly healthy. This is because the sooner we catch health issues, the more effectively we can treat your dog.

Our veterinary team will always advocate for your pet’s health, and discuss any tests that are needed and why they are required. We will take a preventive approach to your dog’s veterinary care.

How Much are Blood Tests for Dogs?

Depending on the vet, breed, and location, blood tests for dogs can vary in price. On average, blood tests can range from $100 to a few hundred dollars. If you have pet insurance, you may be able to get the full cost of blood tests for your dog covered.

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.

Do you have more questions about blood tests for dogs? Contact our Nashua veterinarians to book a consultation.

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