Understanding Blood Tests for Dogs

While we may think dogs may only need bloodwork when they are suffering from an illness, these diagnostics can actually be useful when performed as part of your pup's routine care. Our San Angelo vets are here to help you understand the need for blood tests for dogs and what they can show.

The Importance of Dog Blood Tests

Blood tests are an important part of routine care in order to help accurately diagnose conditions before they become a more serious concern. Diagnosis through bloodwork can occur sooner, even before physical symptoms appear, allowing for the earliest treatment possible.

Even when your pet is healthy, routine blood work should be completed in order to help your vet recognize normal levels within your dog's systems so they can spot potential issues later on.

If your dog is displaying symptoms, diagnostic blood tests play an essential role in helping your vet determine the cause of your dog's symptoms. 

Why are blood tests used for dogs?

A complete blood count (CBC) and complete blood chemistry panel, including electrolytes and urinalysis, are common tests. The CBC 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 as they should.

In order to help diagnose issue within your dog's internal systems, your vet will need to perform these blood tests. 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 should I schedule a blood test for my dog?

There is an endless list of reasons why your vet may request that your dog have blood tests completed such as:

  • Your pet's first vet visit (to establish baseline data and for pre-anesthetic testing before a spaying or neutering procedure)
  • Semi-annual routine exams as preventive care
  • During senior exams to look for age-related conditions in the earliest stages
  • As pre-surgical testing to identify your dog's risk of complications during surgery
  • Before starting a new medication
  • If your dog is showing odd behaviors
  • For conditions, such as blood tests for dogs with diarrhea
  • To help assess your pet's condition during an emergency visit

How long does blood work take at a vet clinic?

Thanks to our in-house lab, our vets can perform a variety of tests and get results quickly. Typically, basic blood tests for dogs can be completed in a matter of minutes. However, some tests may take a little longer to do. Ask you vet about the time frame for the diagnostics that your dog will need.

How much are blood tests for dogs?

The cost of blood tests for dogs will always vary depending on the tests being completed and the clinic itself. Speak with your San Angelo vet to schedule a consultation where you can get a quote on your dog's bloodwork.

What Do My Dog's Blood Test Results Mean?

At Western Veterinary Hospital, we will always take the time to explain your dog’s blood tests and their results, as 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 (CBC) or blood chemistry (serum test). The CBC 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 CBC can also detect bleeding disorders or other abnormalities that may not be identified otherwise.

What information will my dog's CBC show my vet?

  • Hematocrit (HCT): With this test, we can identify the percentage of red blood cells to detect hydration or anemia.
  • Hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (Hb and MCHC): These are pigments of red blood cells that carry oxygen.
  • 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.
  • Eosinophils (EOS): These are a specific type of white blood cells that can indicate health conditions due to allergies or parasites.
  • Platelet count: (PLT): This test measures cells that form blood clots.
  • 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.

What does a blood serum test reveal?

Blood chemistries (blood serum tests) give us insight into a dog’s organ function (liver, kidneys, and pancreas), hormone levels, electrolyte status, and more.

The test can be used to assess the health of older dogs, do general health assessments before anesthesia, or monitor dogs receiving long-term medications.

These tests also 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.

Should I schedule my dog for routine blood tests?

At Western Veterinary Hospital our vets recommend blood tests are conducted and lab work done as a proactive measure during an 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, explain any tests that are needed and why, and take a preventive approach to your dog’s veterinary care.

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 need to schedule routine diagnostic tests including blood work for your dog? Contact our San Angelo veterinarians today.