We understand that you may feel trepidation about taking your pooch in for a blood test. To help ease any worries, our Riverbank vets will share some information about blood tests for dogs in this post. 

Why is Blood Work Important for Dogs?

Often done as part of preventive care, blood tests can point to the earliest signs of illness before any outward symptoms appear. The earlier we're able to catch and correctly diagnose illness, the earlier it can be prevented or treated, which can improve outcomes for your pet's health. 

Health pets also require blood tests during routine exams to establish normal baseline values to compare to later, and as your pet ages. If your dog is exhibiting symptoms, diagnostic blood tests play an essential role in helping your vet find the cause of your dog's symptoms. 

What Do Blood Tests for Dogs Reveal?

Common tests include a complete blood count (CBC) and complete blood chemistry panel, including urinalysis and electrolytes. The CBC can identify whether your dog is experiencing inflammation, an infection or anemia. It may also highlight immune system response and blood clotting ability. 

By interpreting the chemistry panel and electrolytes, your vet can discern whether your pet's pancreas, kidneys and liver are working as well as they should. 

This important lab work can also detect and help to identify complex issues within a dog's internal systems. For example blood tests for dogs can tell us whether internal or environmental stimuli are triggering hormonal-chemical responses. This may point to a problem with a dog's endocrine system. 

When Does My Dog Need a Blood Test?

Your vet may recommend that your dog have blood work done for many reasons, which may include:

  • Your pet's first visit to the vet (to establish baseline data and for pre-anesthetic testing prior to a spaying and neutering procedure
  • Semi-annual routine exams as preventive care
  • Before starting a new medication
  • During senior exams to look for an age-related condition in the earliest stages 
  • Before starting a new medication 
  • If your dog is showing odd behaviors
  • To help assess your pet's condition during an emergency visit

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 results quickly. The tests themselves are relatively quick and can take minutes. Some tests may take somewhat longer. Your vet can provide an accurate timeframe.

What Do My Dog's Blood Test Results Mean?

At River Oak 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.

A CBC reveals detailed information, including:

  • 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 Blood Chemistries Reveal (Blood Serum Test):

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.

Does My Dog Need Blood Tests & Lab Work?

At River Oak 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.

How much are blood tests for dogs?

The cost of your dog's blood tests may vary depending on a number of factors, such as the type of test and your location. The total may also be higher if they need to be done at an emergency vet's office as opposed to your primary vet. Your veterinarian can provide you with a cost estimate for your dog's blood tests before completing them. 

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.

Does your pet require advanced diagnostic care or treatment? Contact us to book an appointment for your canine companion.