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Why Blood Work is Important for the Health of Your Pet

March 4, 2012

If you’ve ever had to bring your pet into the veterinarian’s office because it was ill, there’s a good chance your vet has recommended having blood work done. You may also have had it recommended before your pet is anesthetized for a surgical procedure as well. “Blood work” is a catch all term that actually describes a wide range of possible tests that can be done. You don’t need to wait until your pet is ill though. Having blood tests done on your pet while they are healthy can help give a baseline of what their normal values are and it can even help discover health issues that might not have been discovered until after your pet was quite ill.

So, what types of things can your veterinarian learn from your pet’s blood work? Quite a lot actually. Here are just some of the things that routine blood work can tell your vet about your pet.

  • Low and high blood sugar levels. High levels would indicate that your pet might be diabetic. Blood sugar that is too low can be very serious as well.
  • How well your pet’s kidneys are functioning. Kidney problems can be caused by a number of conditions.  If kidney issues are caught early, your pet’s long term prognosis will be better.
  • Liver problems. Like kidney disease, liver disease can be caused by a wide range of conditions. The sooner abnormal liver values are found though, the sooner we can find out what the underlying issue is and start treatment.
  • Infection. If your pet has been acting “off”, but there’s nothing specific you can put your finger on, blood work can help discover if there may be an underlying infection somewhere that needs to be treated. If your pet is being treated for an infection, further blood samples can help tell us how well they’re responding to treatment.
  • Pancreatitis. The symptoms of pancreatitis can be the same as some other conditions seen in pets. Blood work will help your veterinarian decide whether pancreatitis is the possible cause of your pet’s illness.
  •  Dehydration. Dehydration is often seen in pets that have been ill, especially if they have had diarrhea or vomiting. Blood work can show how seriously dehydrated they are, so that we can treat appropriately.
  • Cancer. Some cancers can cause an increase in certain blood values.
  • Poor nutrition. Some blood values can increase or decrease with poor nutrition.
  • Anemia. If your pet does not have enough red blood cells, then anemia occurs. Anemia can be caused by injury, disease or some immune disorders. The sooner anemia is diagnosed, the sooner we can find out what the cause is.
  • Platelet levels. Platelets are your blood’s clotting agents. Platelet levels that are too low can lead to bleeding disorders.

These are just some of the many things your veterinarian can learn from your pet’s blood work.  Many pets, amazingly, have little to no objections when having their blood drawn.  The numbers of things your veterinarian can learn about your pet’s health through just a small blood sample are truly amazing as well.