How to Understand your Pet's Lab Work Better

Blood or lab tests help us complete an accurate picture of your pet’s health. They may determine causes of illness and let us monitor the progress of medical treatments. Your veterinarian will interpret the results as a whole and describe the interrelationships between values. He/she may want to repeat some tests or you may receive specific instructions regarding fasting, feeding or administering medication before we perform certain blood test on the pet. It is important to note that some medications and drugs can cause changes in blood work.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

The CBC measures the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. A CBC gives information on hydration status, anemia, infection, the blood’s clotting ability and the immune system’s ability to respond. This test is essential for pets that are ill or not “acting right.” If your pet needs surgery, a CBC performed in advance can detect unseen abnormalities.

  • HCT (hematocrit) measures the percentage of red blood cells to detect anemia and dehydration.
  • Hb and MCHC(hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration) measure hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying pigment of red blood cells (corpuscles.)
  • WBC(white blood cell count) measures the body’s immune cells. Increases or decreases indicate certain diseases or infections.
  • GRANS and L/M (granulocytes and lymphocytes/monocytes) are specific types of white blood cells.
  • EOS (eosinophils) are a specific type of white blood cells that, if elevated, may indicate allergic or parasitic conditions.
  • PLT (platelet count) measures cells that help stop bleeding by forming blood clots.
  • RECTICS(reticulocytes) are immature red blood cells. High or low levels help classify anemias.

Blood Serum Profile

These common tests evaluate organ function, electrolyte status, hormone levels, and more.

  • ALB (albumin) is a protien created in the liver that helps evaluate hydration, hemorrhage, and intestinal, liver and kidney health. It helps keep the liquid part (plasma) of the blood from migrating out of the blood vessels and into surrounding tissues, causing edema and other problems. 
  • ALKP(Alkaline Phosphatase) forms in the body tissue. Increased levels in dogs typically reflect liver or bone disease, or that the pet is taking medications, such as prednisone or phenobarbitol. Liver and bone disease, hyperthyroidism and diabetes mellitus are common causes for increases in cats.
  • ALT (alanine aminotransferase) is an enzyme produced in the liver. Values found in the bloodstream are an indicator of liver disease or damage.
  • AMYL (amylase) is an enzyme produced by the pancreas and intestinal tract that helps break down sugar. High levels can show pancreatitis or kidney disease
  • BUN(blood urea nitrogen) is a waste product. An increased level, when combined with elevated creatinine, is azotemia, and its causes may be kidney disease, and urinary tract obstruction. Increases in BUN alone can be due to early kidney disease, gastrointestinal bleeding and high protein diets. Low levels of BUN may reflect liver disease and low protein diets.
  • Ca (calcium) increases can suggest cancer, but there are other causes as well, including kidney failure, bone disease, or rodenticide. Low blood calcium can be present before giving birth and during nursing(eclampsia), reflect problems with the parathyroid gland, or suggest antifreeze poisoning.
  • CHOL (cholesterol) is a fat, but it does not contribute to heart disease in dogs and cats. Many diseases can elevate CHOL levels, including diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s and kidney. 
  • Cortisol is a hormone measured in tests for Cushing’s disease via a low-dose dexamethasone suppressions or combined with an ACTH stimulation test. The  ACTH stimulation test also measures cortisol to look for Addison’s disease.
  • CREA(creatinine) leaves the body in urine, and the muscles produce it. Elevated numbers may show kidney disease or dehydration.
  • GGT (gamma glutamyl transferase) is an enzyme that when elevated, indicates liver disease or corticosteriod excess.
  • GLOB(globulin)is a blood protein that often increases with chronic inflammation and certain disease states.
  • GLU(glucose) is blood sugar. Elevated levels may signify diabetes mellitus. Low levels, called hypoglycemia, can cause collapse, seizure, or coma.
  • K(potassium) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive urination. Increased levels may indicate kidney failure, Addison’s disease, dehydration, and urethral obstruction. High levels can lead to cardiac arrest.
  • LIP(lipase) is an enzyme that may reflect pancreatitis when elevated.
  • Na (sodium) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea, and kidney or Addison’s disease. Higher levels report dehydration.
  • PHOS(phosphorus) discrepancies can associate with chronic kidney disease, parathyroid disease, and some tumors and toxins such as rodenticides.
  • TBIL (total bilirubin) Old red blood cells create bilirubin in the liver. TBIL elevations may indicate liver, gall bladder or hemolytic disease. This test also helps identify bile duct problems and certain types of anemia.
  • TP(total protein) indicates hydration status and provides information about the liver, kidneys, and infectious diseases.
  • T4(thyroxine) is a thyroid hormone. Decreased levels often signal hypothyroidism in dogs, while high levels indicate hyperthyroidism in cats

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