Why are laboratory tests important for my dog's health?

Lab tests are crucial because they reveal the internal functions of your pet's body, such as the bloodstream, urine, and various glands like the thyroid and the liver. These tests provide an internal look at what's happening inside your pet's body, which we can't see from the outside.

Dr. Brittany Bueter
Hebron Animal Hospital

What different types of lab work are there and how are these tests completed?

Your analysis involves examining the urine. This can be done either by catching urine in a small cup or, alternatively, using ultrasound to guide a fine needle through the abdominal wall into the bladder. In male dogs, a urinary catheter can also be used for collection. This procedure provides valuable insights into kidney function and can detect systemic diseases, such as protein loss, urinary tract infections (UTIs), prostate disease in males, bladder stones, or bladder tumors.

Additionally, various blood tests can be conducted. Common tests include a Complete Blood Count (CBC), which evaluates white and red blood cells and platelets. An internal organ profile is also common, assessing kidney, pancreatic, and liver values, protein levels, and blood sugar. This profile checks for substances that should be produced and excreted by the body, which is particularly important in cats. Thyroid hormone levels are also tested, looking for high levels in cats or low levels in dogs. For pets showing specific symptoms, targeted tests are available. These include tests for giardia (GRD tests), stool tests for diagnosing diarrhea, and Gastrointestinal (GI) panels that examine digestive enzymes.

Why are routine blood tests important for my dog?

Routine blood tests provide us an internal overview, particularly for older pets, about trend development. They help us identify any changes or alterations that may be occurring slowly over time.

How does a baseline lab test benefit the health of my dog?

A baseline lab test provides a snapshot of your pet's health at a specific point in time. If something happens in two or three years, we can refer back to this baseline to see what was normal at that time. This helps us determine when a disease process may have started to occur.

Why is early detection important in dogs?

Early detection is vital because ailments caught earlier can usually be dealt with more effectively and for a longer period. At Hebron Animal Hospital, we consider dogs as seniors around seven years of age and start recommending annual blood work, urinalysis, and sometimes thyroid checks. For cats, this begins around eight to nine years of age.

How is the blood drawn and is it painful for the dog?

The blood is drawn through a normal needle stick, similar to a vaccine. Most dogs find sitting still more uncomfortable than the actual poke. We can draw blood from their hind limb or their jugular vein. In some clinics, blood collection is done from the front limb. However, this is usually reserved for situations where a catheter needs to be inserted. Typically, we choose one of the other methods. Many people feel anxious about drawing blood from the jugular vein, as it appears dangerous due to its location near the neck. However, it's actually the smoothest, easiest, and fastest method for collecting larger blood samples.

How is the safety of the dog ensured when getting lab work completed?

We are a fear-free practice, meaning we stop any procedure that stresses a dog and discuss with the owners how we can make it safer and more comfortable for them. Good restraint is also essential to prevent dogs from hurting themselves trying to twist away.

How soon will I receive the lab results?

We have the option of doing some blood work in-house for very sick pets. Otherwise, we typically send it to the lab, and those results usually return within 12 to 24 hours.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (859) 349-1020, or you can email us at [email protected]. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media Facebook, Instagram