At the Mildmay Veterinary Clinic, we have our own blood analysis machines which allow us to check the blood of not only cats and dogs, but farm animals and horses as well. These blood analyzers allow us to perform CBC and blood chemistry profiles which are an important component of wellness blood work.
Your veterinarian may recommend wellness blood work during your pet’s regular exams. Even if your pet is young and healthy, performing this testing periodically helps establish their “normal” values. The next time blood work is performed, your veterinarian can compare the results with previous results to see if anything has changed.
For seniors or chronically ill pets, your veterinarian may recommend blood work more frequently. Wellness blood work screens for many medical conditions, including diabetes and kidney disease. In many cases, early diagnosis and management can improve the quality of life and the long-term prognosis for pets with chronic illnesses.
When a pet presents with clinical signs indicating an illness, a CBC and chemistry profile is often performed very early during the diagnostic process. Even if results of this initial testing are all “normal,” this information can rule out a variety of medical conditions. If the results of a CBC and chemistry profile are abnormal or inconclusive, your veterinarian may recommend additional testing to get closer to a diagnosis.
The CBC can help determine many things about your pet, including whether he or she is dehydrated, anemic (having inadequate numbers of red blood cells), or dealing with an infection. The CBC measures the quantity and quality of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The CBC results may list abbreviations for the various tests included in a CBC.
- HCT is the hematocrit, which indicates how many red blood cells are present. A low HCT might indicate anemia, and a high HCT could indicate dehydration.
- Hgb is the quantity of hemoglobin, which can help determine how well the red blood cells are carrying oxygen to the body’s tissues.
- WBC is the total white blood cell count. Certain types of white blood cells may increase in number when there is infection or inflammation in the body. If the total number is low, it could mean several things, including a severe infection that has overwhelmed the body, or a bone marrow problem that is limiting production of white blood cells. There are several different types of white blood cells, which respond to different events in the body. EOS (eosinophils) are white blood cells that tend to increase in number when the body is dealing with an allergy problem or various parasites.
- PLT is the quantity of platelets (also called the platelet count). Platelets are involved in the body’s blood clotting process, so if the platelet number is low, the patient may develop problems with the ability to form blood clots.
The chemistry profile measures a variety of chemicals and enzymes (proteins that are involved in the body’s chemical reactions) in the blood to provide general information about the status of organ health and function, especially of the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. The chemistry profile also shows the patient’s blood sugar level and the quantities of important electrolytes (molecules like sodium, calcium, and potassium) in the blood.
- Chemistry values that help provide information about the liver include the ALP (alkaline phosphatase), ALT (alanine aminotransferase), AST (aspartate aminotransferase), and TBIL (total bilirubin).
- Chemistry values that help evaluate the kidneys include the BUN (blood urea nitrogen) and CREA (creatinine). Of these two values, the creatinine is a more sensitive indicator of kidney damage. There should be a concern even if it’s only slightly elevated.
- AMYL (amylase) and LIP (lipase) are enzymes produced by the pancreas.
- Electrolytes are checked for quantity and for proportion to other electrolytes. They include Ca (calcium), Cl (chloride), K (potassium), Na (sodium), and PHOS (phosphorus). Electrolyte abnormalities can be associated with many types of health issues. For example, a low calcium level can result in muscle tremors or seizures.