Importance of Blood Analysis for our Pets
Blood analysis is an excellent tool available to veterinarians. A complete blood profile provides vital information concerning your pet’s organs. Even in the absence of symptoms, some pets may be experiencing changes in their body’s function that are not yet severe enough to present observable symptoms. Blood analysis allows us to access such things as your pet’s liver and kidney function, pancreas, intestinal tract, thyroid, and parathyroid. Additionally it allows us to evaluate the different types of blood cells, which are essential to the health of your pet.
When is Blood Analysis Recommended?
We recommend a complete blood analysis be performed yearly on all pets over 7 years of age, pets requiring long term medication, as well as for any pet undergoing procedures requiring the use of general anesthetics.
‘Wellness’ Screening for Older Animals
As pets age their risk of developing serious conditions such as: cancer, diabetes, Kidney disease, obesity, heart disease, and thyroid disorders increase. A yearly blood test allows us to monitor their health and pick up on changes in their body’s function prior to the development of symptoms and before they become life threatening. This allows us to diagnose and treat disease early to improve your pet’s health and quality of life.
In addition to blood analysis, evaluation of your pet’s urine may also be recommended. Urinalysis in addition to blood screening can increase our understanding of your pet’s kidney function. Furthermore many hormonal diseases such as diabetes and adrenal disorders will cause changes in the urine.
Many conditions suffered by our pets require long-term medications to manage them. Most drugs are metabolized by the liver and excreted by the kidneys. In order to ensure the safety of the drugs used for treatment, we may require knowledge of kidney and liver function prior to commencement of treatment using some drugs, and we may wish to regularly check these organs to ensure ongoing use of the drugs is safe. It may also be necessary with some medications to use blood tests to check appropriate levels of the medications are in the blood stream to ensure their efficacy.
Pre Anesthetic Blood Tests
Even if a pet is up to date with all prevention treatments, has no history of illness, and has no abnormalities on physical examination, this is not always the case.
When pets are anesthetized early organ dysfunction can become apparent. Signs of dysfunction often manifest through anesthetic complications that occur either during the anesthetic, during the recovery period, or develop some weeks following a procedure. Although the likelihood that a pet is masking sub-clinical disease increases as pet’s age any age pet can have subclinical disease.
Pre-anesthetic bloods allow us to assess liver and kidney function as well as protein levels, all of which are important for the safe metabolism and elimination of anesthetic drugs. Additionally PCV, a volume percentage of red blood cells in the blood, is included as part of the test which can be of importance in procedures where bleeding is a potential complication.
The results of a pre-anesthetic blood test allow us to tailor our anesthetic protocols to each pet and ensure the safest outcome. Results can affect the choice of anesthetic drugs and pain relief given to a patient, as well as influence the duration and volume of fluid therapy before, during, and after a procedure. In some cases where blood abnormalities are significant, it may be decided that an anesthetic is delayed until further investigation is performed.
What do the different tests tell us?
Complete Blood Count
This test lets us assess the white blood cells (important in immunity, infections etc), red blood cells (oxygen carrying capacity) and platelets (blood clotting cells) and can be important in identifying bone marrow disease.
The liver enzymes ALT and ALP as well as the total Bilirubin level in the blood can be important indicators of liver disease, gall bladder disease as well as adrenal disease and even red blood cell problems.
Here we look at the levels of Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) and Creatinine, both of which are normal by-products of metabolism that are cleared by the kidneys. Elevations in these indicate compromised kidney filtration, which can have several causes.
The values of the main blood protein, Albumin as well as the Total Protein levels in the blood are useful in indicating dehydration, blood loss, liver disease and kidney disease as well as other conditions.
Blood sugar levels are key in diagnosing Diabetes, as well as assessing energy levels in debilitated or sick animals. Both increases and decreases in blood sugar can be very dangerous to animals.
The electrolytes Sodium, Potassium and Chloride are essential in maintaining proper fluid balance. They are especially useful in investigating patients with heart disease, diarrhea, vomiting and metabolic diseases and can have important implications on treatment options.