Since I posted this on Dogs on Thursday this month I thought I'd post it here too. Blood screening in pets, like blood screening in people becomes more important and more comprehensive the older your pet becomes. The tests your vet offers may vary from what is below but this gives explanations of some of the more common tests.
Why does your pet need annual blood screening?
Blood work allows us to evaluate things we cannot see on physical exam and gives us a more complete picture of your pet’s health. This way we can identify potential problems early and intervene with treatment or further diagnostics early on. Problems that are identified and treated early have a better prognosis for long term health.
Blood work lets us know what is normal for your pet. Each value on a blood screen has a reference range of what is normal for most pets. Annual screening will let us know where your pet falls in that range. That way if he or she ever becomes sick we will know what changes on the blood work are significant or abnormal for him or her.
Blood work allows us to see trends in your pet’s values. A value may be in the normal range for many years but may be continually creeping up over time. This can alert us to an impending problem and we can institute an appropriate therapy as needed. This is why it is especially important to have the blood screen done yearly.
What is included on an annual blood screen?
Heartworm test: Heartworms are a very serious parasite. All pets in Missouri need to be on heartworm prevention. If they are not yet on prevention this test will let us know if they are negative so that it will be safe to start a preventative program. For pets that are on routine prevention this will let us know that our preventative program is effective.
Complete Blood Count
1. Hematocrit or Packed Cell Volume: measures the percentage of red blood cells to assess anemia and hydration status
2. White blood cell count: White blood cells can be indicators of infection, disease, or allergic conditions
3. Platelets: Platelets are a part of the clotting system and adequate numbers are needed to prevent excessive bleeding
Serum Chemistry Panel
1. Albumin: Albumin is a serum protein that helps evaluate hydration, hemorrhage, and intestinal, liver, and kidney disease
2. Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP): ALP is an enzyme that can indicate liver, gallbladder, or Cushing’s disease. It also indicates active bone growth in young pets.
3. Alanine Aminotranferase (ALT): ALT is an indicator of liver damage
4. Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN): BUN can be an indicator of dehydration, kidney, or liver function
5. Creatinine: Creatinine is an indicator of kidney function
6. Globulins: Globulins are blood proteins that often increased with chronic inflammation and certain disease states
7. Glucose: Glucose is a blood sugar. Elevated levels may indicate Diabetes and other diseases. Low levels can cause collapse, seizures, or coma
8. Total Bilirubin: Elevations may indicate liver or hemolytic disease. This test can help identify bile duct problems or certain kinds of anemia.
9. Total Protein: This is an indicator of hydration status and provides additional information about the liver, kidneys, and infectious diseases.
10. Other values are assessed in older pets because they are more prone to age related diseases and these additional values give us a better picture of their health.
Thyroid hormone level (older pets only): Decreased levels of thyroid hormone, or hypothyroidism is a common endocrine disease in older dogs. Increased levels of thyroid hormone, or hyperthyroidism is a common endocrine disease of older cats.