Dr. Katherine Vissio

Briar Patch Veterinary Hospital- Contact Us

Why might my dog need lab work?

Lab work is crucial for determining the type of illness your dog might have when they're sick. It helps us identify if they have an issue with their kidneys, liver, pancreas, or any electrolyte abnormalities. It's also used to check for any signs of systemic infection, inflammation, anemias, autoimmune disease, and many other illnesses to help direct our course of treatment. Lab work is also beneficial on an annual routine basis, providing us with data to compare if your pet does get sick. As dogs can't communicate with us verbally, lab work helps us narrow down the broad list of possible health issues, leading to a better and more efficient treatment course.

What are the different types of lab work and how are these tests done?

There are several types of lab work, many of which we can run directly in our hospital. These include urinalysis, blood work, cytologies, and biopsies. Urinalysis helps check for UTIs, crystals or potential bladder stones. Blood work consists of a complete blood count which includes red and white blood cells and platelets, helping us detect infections, anemia, bleeding disorders, or tick-borne diseases. Cytologies involve taking a sample of cells from the skin and examining it under a microscope. Biopsies involve taking a sample of tissue and sending it off to a lab or a pathologist for examination. All these tests provide valuable information that helps in diagnosis and treatment.

Why are routine blood tests important for my dog?

Routine blood tests give us a baseline for what's normal for your dog, helping us track any changes over time. This is particularly useful when your pet gets sick, as any significant change in their usual values could provide a crucial clue as to what's going on. Regular monitoring also helps us manage the side effects of medications, ensuring that they're implemented at the most appropriate time for maximum benefit. Routine lab work can help catch a problem before it becomes a serious issue, potentially preventing an emergency visit to the vet.

What do the chemistries mean on my dog's blood work?

Chemistries refer to the enzymes or products that the organs give off. For instance, the liver secretes enzymes and produces proteins. If the liver or kidneys aren't functioning well, the levels of these substances will rise, which can have toxic side effects. These are the markers we're looking for in the blood work. We interpret these numbers not only in isolation but also in light of what your pet is experiencing, looking for patterns that might lead us down a particular diagnostic path.

Why is early detection and diagnosis of dog illness using lab work so important?

Early detection and diagnosis are vital because dogs and cats aren't always visibly affected when something is wrong. We use lab work to help prevent serious illness, treat serious illness, and gather information before issues become problematic. Sometimes, symptoms may persist for a while before we finally see a change in a blood value, which could confirm our suspicions and prompt us to pursue a specific treatment. Always feel free to ask us any questions you might have about your pet's health.

Dog Lab Work FAQ

Dr. Katherine Vissio

How is blood drawn from my dog?

Typically, from a dog, we'll draw blood either from the cephalic vein, which runs right along the forearm, or we'll get it from the saphenous vein that goes along the outside of the ankle area. These are readily accessible veins, easy to draw blood from, easy to restrain your pet so that we can collect that blood. We usually just get a few small vials, which usually only takes a few minutes. Some pets are more anxious about that process than others, so we do go to great lengths to try and make it as stress-free as possible for each individual pet.

Is a sample collection painful for my dog?

Sample collection is not painful. It can feel just like when you get blood collected, like a little pinch. Most pets, I think, are more resistant to being restrained or just being held than they are to the actual poke itself. Just like a vaccine, they usually don't notice very much.

How is the safety of my dog ensured when getting lab work done?

We have multiple ways to make sure that your dog stays safe. We meet with you and your pet in the exam room, we establish a plan with you from the beginning, we make sure that we draw the correct blood sample, and we have a good relationship with your pet. For pets with more needs or anxiety, we usually work out a plan that often involves some very mild oral sedatives like Trazodone and or Gabapentin. If necessary, we use a soft cloth muzzle or a basket muzzle. We also put the safety of your pet above getting the sample.

How soon will I receive my dog's lab results?

Lab results can depend on a few different things. If your pet is sick here and we have the ability to run the lab work in-house, sometimes it can be 20 or 30 minutes. If we have to run multiple tests, you could be here for a couple of hours. Usually for routine labs and other things for monitoring, we're sending it off to our IDEX laboratory. That can take a few days. Some lab work, like biopsies, culture results, titers, and things that go to special laboratories, can take one to two weeks often.

Does my senior dog really need lab work done?

I find that it's especially important in senior dogs to have lab work. Age is not a disease, but as we age, we are more likely to have disease. We can optimize your older dog's care by monitoring these lab work results.

Will my dog need more than one type of lab test?

It really depends. It depends on what is going on with them at the time. It depends on what information we can gather from the physical exam. That'll help guide whether we need to perform just one test or whether multiple are necessary.

Will follow-up lab work need to be done on my dog?

That'll also depend on what the results are. If we do find something that's either borderline or just outside the range, we may recommend that they come back one to three months to have that drawn again. Often, pets that are on routine medications are coming in at least every six months for an exam and blood work. The follow-up tests are going to be more common in things like thyroid illnesses or kidney or liver. It really depends on what is going on with your pet, and that's also what we work together to establish a plan that's going to be most helpful.

If you have any other questions, please give us a call at (607) 272-2828. You can also email us at [email protected] and we will get back to you as soon as we are able. Don't forget to follow us on social media: Facebook and Instagram