Blood tests are essential for identifying your pets wellness, overall wellbeing and potential health issues. Your vet will recommend a blood test for your puppy's first visit, every time your dog comes for a wellness check, or before surgery or new medication. They may even recommend a blood test if your dog seems a little off.
Blood test results help your vet diagnose an issue and check existing problems. Blood tests help your vet recommend strategies for ensuring your dog does not get ill or worse. The blood sample your dog gives is used to test many factors in your dog's bloodstream, so it's not surprising the results may need a little translation.
We’ve researched different terms and abbreviations so you can understand precisely what your dog's blood test results mean and how a pet wellness protection plan can help cover these costs.
Understanding dog blood tests
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
A CBC returns standard information on your dog's overall health, like its level of anemia, infection, hydration, and blood clotting capability. These results indicate your dog's ability to handle a stressful event or cope with a disease.
A vet's approach to your dog's overall wellness includes a CBC in yourdog's standard check-up but may also be ordered if your dog is showing symptoms of fever or vomiting, weakness, pale gums, or loss of appetite. Before surgery, this test is also important to check for any unseen problems or bleeding disorders.
A CBC produces all of this detailed information:
Hematocrit (HCT, PCV) is used to detect anemia or dehydration and measures the percentage of red blood cells in the blood.
Hemoglobin (HGB) and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (Hb and MCHC) measure the level of your oxygen-carrying pigments in red blood cells.
White blood cell (WBC)or leukocyte count can indicate the presence of various diseases. Other white blood cells are granulocytes (neutrophils; PMNs), lymphocytes, and monocytes. Eosinophils are an indicator of allergic or parasitic conditions.
Platelet count measures the cells that help form blood clots.
Reticulocytes and nucleated red blood cells are immature red blood cells. High levels indicate regenerative anemia.
Blood chemistries or blood serum tests check a dog's organ function, electrolyte status, and hormone levels. When your dog gets a little older, has been exposed to a poison or toxin, or shows signs of illness (including vomiting or diarrhea), your vet will ask for these tests. Blood serum tests will also be ordered to check your dog's health or the effectiveness of long-term medications before a procedure requiring anesthesia. All of these results will be explained by your vet. Ask for more information if you don't understand.
Albumin (ALB): This is a serum protein that gives your vet information on hydration or liver and kidney issues, amongst other issues.
Alkaline phosphatase (ALKP): Your vet will be checking on bone growth in a young dog or diseases such as Cushing's or liver damage.
Alanine aminotransferase (ALT): Your vet will be checking on the health of your dog's liver.
Amylase (AMYL): Higher results here may indicate pancreatitis or kidney disease.
Aspartate aminotransferase (AST): If these levels are increasing, they indicate liver, heart, or skeletal muscle damage.
Blood urea nitrogen (BUN): Your vet is checking kidney function.
Calcium (Ca): Calcium is a key element in the body, and changes here could indicate various diseases. Ask your vet to explain the results.
Cholesterol (CHOL): Your dog's cholesterol levels can help diagnose liver disease, Cushing's, hypothyroidism, and diabetes mellitus. Again, this result will need clarification from your vet.
Chloride (Cl): Higher chloride levels can suggest dehydration in your dog, and lower levels indicate various illnesses like Addison's disease.
Cortisol (CORT): Cortisol is a hormone created when your dog is stressed. Variable levels of this hormone will indicate diseases like Cushing's or Addison's disease.
Creatinine (CREA): A high creatinine level may indicate that your dog's kidneys may not function well.
Gamma Glutamyl transferase (GGT): If this enzyme is in your dog's blood, that may indicate liver disease.
Globulin (GLOB): High globulin levels suggest chronic inflammation or an underlying condition that your dog is fighting off.
Glucose (GLU): Glucose is blood sugar and another critical indicator of your dog's health. If your dog's levels are high, it may have diabetes. Low glucose can indicate dietary issues or intestinal parasites.
Potassium (K): Potassium is another important element for your dog's health and is vital for electrical charging in your dog's heart, nerves, and muscles. Low levels mean your dog will be tired all the time and can indicate various conditions, including dehydration.
Lipase (LIP): An increase may indicate a problem with your dog's pancreas.
Sodium (Na): Low blood sodium levels can mean your dog is dehydrated or may have something more serious.
Phosphorus (PHOS): High levels here mean your dog is having trouble metabolizing phosphorus which may mean kidney problems or other underlying issues.
Total bilirubin (TBIL): This test will help indicate liver disease and bile duct problems, among other issues.
Total protein: High or low protein levels in your dog's bloodstream can mean anything from cancer to liver issues.
Thyroxine (T4): Thyroxine is a thyroid hormone. Low levels suggest hypothyroidism in dogs.
Get blood tests covered with Wagmo Pet Wellness
Your dog's general health can be much better monitored by your vet with a CBC ordered as a matter of course and blood culture tests as necessary. These tests are all covered by Dog Wellness Plans by Wagmo. If you think you might also be interested in Wagmo dog insurance, you can mix and match and only pay for what you need.
Find out how to get your dog's blood test cost reimbursed using Wagmo supported veterinary wellness plans and pet insurance plans.