We love our pets and want to make sure they are healthy. Veterinarians recommend bloodwork to keep dogs fit, leading many pet owners to ask, “What can a blood test tell you about your dog?”

This guide answers questions like “How long do pet blood test results take?” and “How do I prepare my dog for blood work?” It also explains what bloodwork tests are for and when they are appropriate.

Understanding your pet’s bloodwork might take time, but it is possible.

When Should Pets Get Bloodwork?

Before asking, “Do animals need to fast before bloodwork?” let’s understand why veterinarians decide to do blood tests. Veterinarians recommend bloodwork for many different issues on both a routine and as-needed basis.

You might be confused about whether your pet needs bloodwork, especially if they seem healthy. Your vet will likely order bloodwork under the following circumstances:

  • Regular exams: Veterinarians often recommend dogs do bloodwork as a part of physical testing. Blood and urine tests can identify problems that physical examinations cannot.
  • Puppy’s first visit: Young puppies need bloodwork to test for congenital diseases before neutering and spaying.
  • Abnormal behavior: Dogs acting in peculiar ways need blood tests to determine what exactly is wrong with them.
  • Pre-surgery tests: Veterinarians frequently test liver and kidney efficiency before surgeries. They do so to determine the amount of anesthesia needed to sedate a pet.
  • Senior exams: Older dogs need frequent bloodwork to monitor for disease. Older dogs with proper blood counts often act more youthful and healthier.
  • Pre-medication: Medications that interact with the liver or kidney may require prior bloodwork. Ask your veterinarian if bloodwork is right for your pet!

How Do I Prepare My Dog For Bloodwork?

When the time comes for bloodwork, it’s essential to properly prepare your dog to ensure accurate results. First, ensure they fast before testing. Your veterinarian will tell you how long they need to fast.

Keep them calm as you take them to the vet, and ensure they are hydrated and ready for testing. If you’re wondering, “Where is the best place to draw blood from a dog?” or “Do dogs need to be sedated for a blood test?” your vet will determine that for you.

Not sure when you’ll get your pet’s test results back? Test result speed depends on the test and the lab processing them. At most, you should hear back within a few weeks, but your vet can give you a more clear answer.

What Is a Complete Blood Count Test?

You might wonder, “What can a blood test tell you about your dog?” Blood tests look for different things depending on the veterinarian’s concern. For instance, the vet might test your pet for low blood calcium if they are about to give birth, while cholesterol testing looks for heart disease. The most common type of testing, however, is the complete blood count test (CBC).

The complete blood count test looks at the number of different cells in the bloodstream. These include red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

What Are Red Blood Cells?

Red blood cells distribute oxygen throughout the body. They typically last about 100 days before the liver and spleen remove them. Therefore, red blood cells are crucial for keeping your pet’s organs and nervous system functioning.

Anemia occurs when there aren’t enough red blood cells in the bloodstream, while polycythemia occurs when there are too many.

Your dog’s test will include testing for HCT and Hb. Each of these tests specifically looks for abnormal levels of red blood cells. Knowing your dog’s red blood cell count is crucial, affecting their energy level, hydration, and overall well-being.

What Are White Blood Cells?

White blood cells include neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, basophils, and eosinophils. Lymphocytes originate in lymph nodes, while the other blood cell types come from the bone marrow.

White blood cells help your dog fight infections and diseases. They are the backbone of their immune system. Dogs undergoing chemotherapy, or those suffering from bone marrow disease, may have lower white blood cell counts than expected.

Making sure your pet has an appropriate number of white blood cells ensures it can deal with infections and threats to its immune system. So instead of searching “what can a blood test tell you about your dog?” talk with your vet to understand how white blood cells work.

What Are Platelets?

Platelets originate in the bone marrow, like red blood cells and most white blood cells. They allow the body to form blood clots, with an average lifespan of a few weeks. Low platelet counts indicate issues with your dog’s bone marrow.

If your pet bruises easily or has blood in their waste, talk to your veterinarian about testing their platelet count. There may be further complications with their immune system and other blood types.

What Other Types of Blood Tests Are There?

Complete blood count tests might be the most common type, but they aren’t the only kind. Veterinarians use a wide variety of tests to help their patients. Here are some other common types of blood tests:

  • Gastrointestinal blood panels: These tests examine whether your pet’s digestive system and pancreas are working well. 
  • Blood chemistries: Blood chemistry tests focus on organ function and determine whether anesthesia is safe for a pet.
  • Blood serum tests: Blood serum tests evaluate hormone levels, organ function, and electrolyte concentration. They test for substances as varied as calcium, cholesterol, chloride, and sodium. Veterinarians often do blood serum tests for older dogs and those suffering from diarrhea or vomiting.

Professional Veterinary Services

When asking, “What can a blood test tell you about your dog?” and “How long do pet blood test results take?” you should remember that taking care of a pet goes far beyond regular bloodwork. Giving your pet the best veterinary care possible matters.

Contact our team at Penny Paws Animal Clinic to schedule an appointment for your pet. We can help you better understand the role of blood work testing and how to ensure your pet leads the healthiest and happiest life possible.