The Importance of Blood Work


Dr. Karen Halligan

Blood tests, which help determine if an animal is healthy on the inside, are essential as screening tools for senior pets, pets undergoing any and all surgical procedures, pets with fevers, chronic vomiting or diarrhea, weakness, pale gums, loss of appetite and other medical disorders. There are hundreds of tests you can run on an animal's blood sample but a CBC is the most common blood test performed on pets and people. Every drop of blood literally contains millions of cells that can change by the hour. A CBC gives you the actual numbers of the three types of cells in the blood, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, and includes a description of any abnormalities in blood cell shape, size, color or appearance. Red blood cells, produced in the bone marrow, pick up oxygen and deliver it throughout the body. White blood cells measure the body's immune cells and increases or decreased can indicate certain diseases or infections. Platelets serve a vital function in the ability for the blood to form clots. Therefore, a CBC can tell you if an animal is anemic, low number of red blood cells, has an infection, the hydration status, the bloods clotting ability and the immune systems ability to respond. The second type of blood test commonly performed to assess the health status of cats, dogs and people is serum blood chemistries. Blood chemistries are necessary to evaluate organ function, electrolyte status and hormone levels in the body. These tests are used as base lines for aging pets, pre-anesthetic evaluation and monitoring long-term medications as well as evaluating sick animals. Blood tests should be interpreted in light of the entire evaluation of your pet.


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