When your pet is in critical condition, prompt diagnosis and treatment is imperative. Many veterinary hospitals have to send blood work away to commercial labs. Results from these labs can be returned the same day or within 24 hours, but they often take up to days or even weeks. Having lab testing available within the hospital can save valuable time, returning test results the same day or even within minutes if necessary. In hospital laboratory testing provides quick answers in an emergency situation, allowing vets to quickly analyze results, determine a solution, and implement a response to give your pet the most timely and effective treatment possible.


Why Is Laboratory Testing Important?

Veterinarians rely on lab tests when determining the status of your pet’s health. When your pet is sick, lab tests can reveal the presence of certain illnesses or rule out others. Ongoing blood work can also monitor the progress of a disease and/or its response to treatments. Additionally, lab test results can be useful before surgery in determining whether your pet is at risk for complications from anesthesia. Even when your pet is healthy, your vet may want to run tests to establish what are called baseline values. Most often these values are established through a series of tests— a complete blood count, a blood chemistry panel, and urinalysis. These tests may be recommended for pets of all ages, even when your pet is young and healthy.


What Are the Most Common Types of Blood Tests?


Complete Blood Count (CBC): A CBC identifies and quantifies red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in the blood, including analysis of the shape and condition of the cells for health and functionality. This information is also important in determining the health of your pet’s immune system (white blood cells) and oxygen carrying capacity (red blood cell count). CBC tests show your pet’s hydration levels, blood clotting ability, and immune system response, as well as signs of anemia and infection.

A CBC is important for pets displaying symptoms like fever, diarrhea, weakness, vomiting or loss of appetite. It is also valuable in detecting bleeding disorders or other abnormalities, which may prevent risks during surgery.


Blood Chemistries: Also known as blood serum tests, this test evaluates organ function, hormone levels and electrolyte levels among others. They can be important in evaluating the health of older pets or pets who take long-term medications. Pets showing signs of vomiting, diarrhea, or exposure to toxins will also undergo blood serum testing.


Heartworm Test: Heartworm testing is recommended as part of your pet’s annual wellness exam, even if your pet takes a preventative heartworm medication. If your veterinarian suspects the presence of heartworms, he or she may also recommend the test to confirm their diagnosis. In either case, a blood sample will be required to determine results.


When Will My Vet Request Blood Work For My Pet?

Your vet may use lab tests for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common reasons include:

-Dogs displaying signs of illness; useful in determining the source of illness

-Pre-surgery blood work evaluates liver and kidney functions and appropriate anesthesia dosage

-Prior to starting new medications, blood work determines wellness of liver and kidney functions

-Assessing predisposition to congenital defects and illnesses in young pets


Laboratory testing serves as a valuable assessment tool for veterinarians in detecting, diagnosing, and treating illness and disease. The availability of in hospital lab testing serves to expedite the process of diagnostics and treatment, giving your pet effective diagnostic care on the road to optimal health.