Whitefish Animal Hospital

245 West 2nd Street
Whitefish, MT 59937



Blood Testing - image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography and freedigitalphotos.net

We recommend getting a blood workup on your pet once per year, especially if they are more than 6 years of age.  Blood work essentially gives us a window into the internal systems of your pet.  This information can help doctors make more informed diagnoses and/or to catch disease in the early stages when it is perhaps more treatable.  Blood work on your young pet can be very helpful to use for as a baseline for comparison in the future.  As your pet advances in age, a more comprehensive blood panel, including thyroid testing, is recommended to screen for a wider array of problems.

Pre-Anesthetic Blood Testing

Although a thorough physical exam is performed on your pet prior to going under anesthesia, body metabolism and organ function can only fully be evaluated through blood work. It is for this reason that we always highly recommend pre-anesthetic blood work. Ideally, we ask that you schedule a blood draw appointment a few days prior to your pet's surgery or dental appointment, so that we can FedEx the blood out to Antech, a diagnostic laboratory that faxes us the results within 48 hours. If you authorize blood work on the day of surgery, we send the blood over to North Valley Hospital for testing, which can cost more than pre-scheduled blood work.  Depending upon the blood results, the doctors may adjust the dose or type of anesthetic used, or even may advise delaying surgery.

Important reasons to test your pet's blood:

• The health and safety of your pet is our foremost concern.  Because your pet cannot describe symptoms to let us know what might be wrong, blood tests can often give us the answers we need, especially before an anesthesia.

• Blood chemistry tests provide an inside look at your pet's vital organs.  By testing blood chemistry, we can evaluate the status of your pet's major organs. The function of the liver and kidneys is especially important because these organs process and rid the body of medications used during anesthesia.

• Hematology tests provide an inside look at the blood itself.  Blood is composed of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It is important to know the status of each prior to anesthesia. Red Blood Cells (RBCs) are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body. White Blood Cells (WBCs) are the body's primary means of fighting infection. Platelets play and important role in blood clotting and are critical in helping the body to stop bleeding.
• Hematocrit (HCT) or Packed Cell Volume (PCV): Provides information on the amount of red blood cells (RBCs) present in the blood. This test is used to diagnose anemia.

• Complete Blood Count (CBC): A more complete panel that provides detailed infoormation on RBCs, WBCs, and platelets. These tests can indicatye the presence of inflammation, stress or an inability to fight infection. Low platelets can indicate potentially serious problems such as bleeding during or after surgery. 
• Essential blood chemistry test and the information it provides:

Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) is an enzyme that becomes elevated with liver disease. 

Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP) is an enzyme produced by the bilary tract (liver). Elevated levels can indicate liver disease, Cushing's syndrome, or other disease processes.

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) is produced by the liver and excreted by the kidneys. Testing for it helps to detect liver and kidney abnormalities.

Creatinine (CREA) is a byproduct of muscle metabolism and is excreted by the kidneys. Elevated levels can indicate kidney disease or urinary obstruction.

Blood Glucose (GLU) at high levels can help diagnose diabetes and indicate stress, especially in cats. Low levels can indicate liver disease.

Total Protein (TP) levels can suggest a variety of conditions, including dehydration and diseases of the liver, kidney, or gastrointestinal tract.

Sodium (Na) and Potassium (K) are two important electrolytes in the body. Abnormal levels can be associated with numerous disease processes and can create life threatening problems during anesthesia.