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A Pet Owner's Guide to Laboratory Testing
"Many technologies that help humans live longer, healthier lives are available to your pet. By performing a few basic tests your veterinarian is able to gather a wealth of information concerning the well-being of your pet.
There are four basic wellness tests your veterinarian will use to diagnose the health of your pet:
- Complete Blood Count (CBC)
This tests for anemia, infection, inflammation and the healthiness of blood cells.
- A Complete Blood Count is a series of tests that evaluate the number of cells in circulation. WBC, or white blood cells, help fight infection or inflammation. RBC, or red blood cells, carry oxygen to the tissues.
These panels survey many of the organ systems of the body to make sure they are working properly.
Liver (AST, ALT, Alk Phos, Total Bilirubin, GGT, Cholesterol, Proteins)
This group of tests helps evaluate various functions and health of the liver. Decreased liver function, inflammation, infection, or neoplasia of the liver and gall bladder may be detected by one or all of these tests.
Kidney (BUN, Creatinine, Phosphorus, Amylase, Albumin)
These tests monitor the function and health of the kidneys. They are most helpful and sensitive for detecting kidney disease when combined with a urinalysis.
Pancreas (Glucose, Amylase, Lipase, Triglyceride)
These tests are abnormal when there is something wrong with the pancreas or carbohydrate metabolism (examples are diabetes mellitus and pancreatitis).
Muscle and Bone
Calcium and Phosphorus are helpful in determining the health of bone metabolism.
CPK and AST are abnormal with muscle damage, trauma or inflammation (mytosis).
Electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Calcium, Phosphorous)
These tests are important in monitoring the electrical, water balance and cellular health of the body. Deficiencies or excesses of these electrolytes are harmful to an animal's physical and mental well-being.
- Thyroid Function Tests
These tests are useful in diagnosing increased (hyper) or decreased (hypo) functions of the thyroid gland.
As the name implies, thyroid tests evaluate the function of the thyroid gland. Too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) is common in dogs whereas too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) is common in older cats. Because there is no single thyroid test that can diagnose all thyroid diseases in animals, several different thyroid tests are used to assure proper results (T4, T3, Free T4, etc.).
This test assesses the health and function of the urinary system. This is especially important in older animals to help with the early detection of kidney disease."
Understanding Common Blood Tests
by Lee Pickett, V.M.D.
"When your veterinarian recommends blood tests for your dog, do you feel uncertain, not sure what the tests are for or what the terminology means? If so, this article is for you. After you read it, you'll have a working knowledge of the more common blood tests and what they can show. ..."
Please click on the title to read this informative article at the Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue Web Site. There's additional educational articles here.
Why Have Your Animal's Blood Tested through HEMOPET ?
The main reason for sending Dr. Jean Dodds / HEMOPET the blood samples instead of having the testing done locally, is that HEMOPET is the only group routinely offering expert clinical interpretive diagnostic comments that take into account the age, sex, and breed type of the animal. This often means an expected normal reference range for an individual pet that differs from the test lab's generic broad reference range. Practitioners usually are unaware of these differences, which have been established by published research and Dr. Dodds' many years (41 years this year- 2005) of clinical and research experience.
Note, Regarding Thyroid testing:
The COMPLETE Thyroid Panel is needed for an ACCURATE diagnosis and assessment of Thyroid Function. Dr. Dodds' Thyroid Panel # D8T provides the values for: T3, T4, free T3, free T4, T3 Autoantibodies and T4 Autoantibodies. As of 4/04 the fee for that testing is $57.50, which includes Dr. Dodds' expert interpretation.
If you'd like to have the COMPLETE Thyroid Panel AND the other Blood Chemistry values, the Profile 7200 includes the CBC, Differential, Superchem, AND the Complete Thyroid Panel, D8T as specified above. The fee as of 4/04 for this extensive testing which also includes Dr. Dodds' interpretation is $79.50
A littler reminder, Dr. Dodds' testing through her non-profitHEMOPET is less expensive and there will be an additional fee of about $10 for your local vet to pull the blood, plus the postage (I send it myself). See additional information about how I do this and more articles about the very important Thyroid Gland.
Additional Articles regarding Blood Tests:
Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine
- Normal Values - table
- References: Holistic guide for a healthy dog
Pawprints and Purrs, Inc. Cat Health Care
by Kathy Dvorak "Why do we do blood work? Simply stated, because our dog cannot describe symptoms to let us know what might be wrong. Diagnosing an illness in a dog, as in humans, can be difficult and often requires many laboratory tests including blood work. Blood work is also important to establish a "baseline" for health care (i.e. comparison of our dog when (s)he is well versus when a situation arises). And last, but certainly not least, it is used to monitor dog's that are on anti-convulsant drugs. ..."
"Normal Values for blood chemistry elements for dogs and cats are displayed in the table below. Keep in mind that each blood chemistry machine and every veterinary diagnostic lab has their own set of normal values calculated for their particular instrumentation. The values shown here may be different from normal ranges your veterinarian refers to when making judgments about patients' reported blood chemistry values."
by Dawn Ruben, DVM
by Dawn Ruben, DVM
" ... dogs fed raw meats (natural carnivores) have higher red blood cell and blood urea nitrogen levels than dogs fed cereal-based food (obligate omnivores). Thus, the normal reference values for dogs fed raw food diets should probably be revised."
"The older your dog gets, the more important it becomes for him to have regular vet visits. While certain conditions like reduced hearing and vision or joint stiffness are all part of growing older, there are other problems that can only be discovered through diagnostic tests. Having these tests done a couple of times a year can help prevent or minimize conditions that would otherwise progress very quickly. ... "
Becky Lundgren, DVM
Helpful info from Dr. Ken Diestler
AVMA brochure - 2004
Jill Maddison Australia
World Small Animal Veterinary Assoc. Conference (WSAVA 2001)
Valley Fever Center for Excellence
Cushing's Disease or Hyperadrenocorticism
" .. The diagnosis of Cushing's can be done with several blood tests. Cushing's disease is probably more accurately referred to as hyperadrenocorticism -- the production of too much adrenal hormone, in particular corticosteroids. It can be naturally occurring or due to over administration of corticosteroids such as prednisone (iatrogenic Cushings). The latter is easy to cure - just cut out the corticosteroid administration slowly to allow the body to return to normal function. The former is more difficult. ..."
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