So the vet wants to run a blood test on my animal…
Your vet may suggest blood testing for a variety of reasons
- As a method of monitoring the general health of your pet. This may be more commonly recommended in older pets, but may be recommended at any age.
- As part of the health/risk assessment prior to procedures such as surgery.
- As a method of determining reasons for identified health issues such as weight loss /a change in appetite or drinking.
- As a method of monitoring response to treatment, for example when treating endocrine conditions such as hyperadrenocortisolism, for patients undergoing chemotherapy or for monitoring organ function with long term administration of medications such as pain relief.
What types of blood tests may be recommended?
- Full (or complete) blood count: A full blood count involves checking levels of red and white blood cells, and platelets in the blood. A full blood count may identify dehydration, anaemia, infection and a range of other conditions.
- Biochemistry: A biochemistry exam involves measuring a number of enzymes that are released by or metabolised by organs in the body. Commonly tested organs that may have their function assessed by a biochemistry blood test include the liver and kidneys, and pancreas. The levels of important electrolytes such as potassium, sodium and chloride, blood glucose as well as the level of protein in the blood are often also assessed.
- Depending on the results of the veterinarian’s physical examination on your pet, or if an abnormality is detected on a full blood count or biochemistry examination your veterinarian may recommend further testing such as endocrine testing.
- Blood testing is often run at the same time as urine testing. Urine samples for testing are collected by catching the urine in a clean container when your dog or cat urinates, by using non absorbent litter in your cat’s litter tray, or under some circumstances by passage of a catheter through the urethra into the bladder or by a procedure called cystocentesis where the veterinarian passes a sterile needle through the abdominal wall into the bladder .
What should I expect when the veterinarian recommends or performs a blood test on our pets?
- The type of blood test will depend on the reason why blood testing is being recommended.
- Baseline blood tests may be the first step in determining the reason for a change in your pet, further testing may be required to arrive at a diagnosis, and sometimes the initial treatment is repeating the blood tests in a defined period of time to determine if a trend may be identified.
- Blood testing is not often used to diagnose cancer (a common question/expectation in veterinary consults), however sometimes a blood test may focus the veterinarian’s attention onto a particular area for further investigation.
- Your veterinarian will explain and put any abnormalities on blood tests into context based on the rest of the information available to them, for example the findings on history, physical examination and diagnostic imaging.
For more information please contact our friendly staff on 4362 1644