Whether you are bringing your pet in for a routine health check, an operation or because they are unwell, a blood test will frequently be performed as part of the veterinary clinician’s examination to help them make an accurate diagnosis.
Forming part of any routine bloodwork is the complete blood count, or CBC. The CBC shows us the quality and quantity of the various cell types in the blood and is a sensitive indicator of the health status of your pet. There are three groups of blood cell the analyser measures:
- White blood cells (leucocytes) are involved in helping protect the body from infection e.g., bacteria, viruses or foreign material that may have entered the body inadvertently. There are five types of leucocyte – neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils, which can act independently or in combination, depending on the problem present. Deviations in their number and/or appearance from the normal expected values can help us diagnose the presence of inflammation, infection or in some cases, cancer.
- Red blood cells (erythrocytes) carry oxygen via a special protein, called haemoglobin, around the body to the tissues, where it is released. Like the white blood cells, deviations in their number (not enough indicates the presence of anaemia) or appearance (too small can indicate iron deficiency) can help us understand if there is an underlying disease that requires investigation. In cases where an anaemia has been found, the analyser can measure how many young red blood cells (reticulocytes) there are, helping us to characterise the anaemia further.
- Platelets play a vital role in blood clotting and if there are too few circulating in the blood, spontaneous bleeding can occur.
The other major part of any routine bloodwork is measuring various biochemical components found in the liquid part of the blood, called serum. There are many biochemistry tests that can be performed, which assess the function of various organs, such as the liver, kidneys, and pancreas, or whether your pet has diabetes. We run these tests to not only help us understand why your pet might be unwell, but to also monitor the effects of certain medications, or to assess their general health status prior to having an anaesthetic.
We are fortunate to be able to run more advanced blood tests in-house as well, many of which are only available at specialist external laboratories, enabling us to reach an accurate diagnosis quickly and start treatment sooner. We can check whether your pet has pancreatitis (CPLI/FPLI), an under or overactive thyroid (T4/TSH), signs of early inflammation/tissue damage via special biomarkers (CRP/SAA), whether there are any clotting issues (PT/APTT/D-dimers/TEG/Platelet Aggregation), if they have signs of early kidney damage (SDMA), or whether they have an adrenal disorder such as Cushing’s Syndrome or Addison’s Disease (Cortisol).
We can also run Progesterone bloods in-house, which is used to predict the timing of canine ovulation. Sequential samples can be analysed enabling us to monitor the increase in progesterone levels, which is invaluable in determining the optimal breeding time. Samples can be collected either during a vet consult, or with one of our nurses, where the results are sent via email to be interpreted yourself. Results are available the same day, so long as they are in our lab by 4pm, but we do offer a fast-track service, at an additional charge, with results available within 2 hours, when time is of the essence.