Skip to Main Content

Blood Tests For Dogs - What The Results Mean

Is your dog having blood tests done but you aren't sure why? Our South Charlotte vets explain why blood tests are an important tool in veterinary medicine, and what some common blood tests can tell us about your dog's health.

Why is blood work important for dogs?

When done as part of preventive care,  blood tests give us an indication of the earliest signs of illness before any outward symptoms appear. They can help to detect, identify, diagnose or even treat disease or illness. 

When we detect diseases early, prevention and treatment can be administered earlier. Healthy pets also need blood tests during routine exams to obtain normal baseline values to compare to later, and as your pet ages.

Blood tests for dogs with diarrhea, vomiting, unexplained weight loss, and other symptoms play an essential role in helping your vet determine the cause of your dog's symptoms. 

What do blood tests for dogs show us?

A complete blood count (CBC) and complete blood chemistry panel, including electrolytes and urinalysis, are common tests. The CBC identifies whether there is anemia, inflammation or infection present. It can also indicate immune system response and blood clotting ability.

The chemistry panel and electrolytes tell your vet whether your pet’s liver, kidneys and pancreas are healthy and working as they should.

This important lab work can also detect and help to identify complex issues within a dog’s internal systems. For example, blood tests for dogs can detect whether internal or environmental stimuli are causing hormonal-chemical responses. This tells a veterinarian there may be a potential problem with the dog’s endocrine system.

When will my dog need a blood test?

There are countless circumstances that can lead to your vet recommending that your dog have blood work done, such as:

  • Your pet's first vet visit (to establish baseline data and for pre-anesthetic testing before a spaying or neutering procedure)
  • Semi-annual routine exams as preventive care
  • During senior exams to look for age-related conditions in the earliest stages
  • As pre-surgical testing to identify your dog's risk of complications during surgery
  • Before starting a new medication
  • If your dog is showing symptoms such as recurrent diarrhea or just seems a bit 'off'
  • To help assess your pet's condition during an emergency visit

How long does blood work take at a vet?

Thanks to our in-house lab, our vets can perform a variety of tests and get results quickly. The tests themselves only take a few minutes and may save the life of your dog - not to mention future expenses for treatment or symptom management in the future. Some tests may take somewhat longer. Your vet can provide an accurate timeframe.

We leverage advanced veterinary technology to ensure our patients will have the best possible treatment outcomes. Because blood tests at Sharon Lakes Animal Hospital are done in-house, your vet will be able to explain why specific tests are needed and their results, and address any questions you may have.

If the test results show abnormalities and more blood tests are required, there will be fewer trips back and forth and time can be saved.

How much are blood tests for dogs?

The cost of blood tests for your canine companion will vary depending on a number of factors, such as the number of tests needed and their complexity. The team at our South Charlotte animal hospital will be able to provide you with a cost estimate before the process begins.

What do my dog's blood test results mean?

At Sharon Lakes Animal Hospital, we will always take the time to explain your dog’s blood tests and their results, as treatment and management of health issues are a team effort between our veterinary team and loving pet owners.

Typically, your dog's bloodwork will include a complete blood count (CBC) or blood chemistry (serum test). The CBC will be important for dogs that have pale gums, or are experiencing vomiting, fever, weakness or loss of appetite. Blood tests for dogs with diarrhea also fall into this category.

A CBC can also detect bleeding disorders or other abnormalities that may not be identified otherwise.

A CBC reveals detailed information, including:

  • Hematocrit (HCT): With this test, we can identify the percentage of red blood cells to detect hydration or anemia.
  • Hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (Hb and MCHC): These are pigments of red blood cells that carry oxygen.
  • White blood cell count (WBC): With this test, we measure the body’s immune cells. Certain diseases or infections can cause WBC to increase or decrease.
  • Granulocytes and lymphocytes/monocytes (GRANS and L/M): These are specific types of white blood cells.
  • Eosinophils (EOS): These are a specific type of white blood cells that can indicate health conditions due to allergies or parasites.
  • Platelet count: (PLT): This test measures cells that form blood clots.
  • Reticulocytes (RETICS): High levels of immature red blood cells can point to regenerative anemia.
  • Fibrinogen (FIBR): We can glean important information about blood clotting from this test. High levels can indicate a dog is 30 to 40 days pregnant.

What Blood Chemistries Reveal (Blood Serum Test):

Blood chemistries (blood serum tests) give us insight into a dog’s organ function (liver, kidneys and pancreas), hormone levels, electrolyte status and more.

We can assess the health of older dogs, do general health assessments prior to anesthesia or monitor dogs receiving long-term medications.

These tests also help us evaluate senior dogs’ health and those with symptoms of diseases (such as Addison’s, diabetes, kidney diseases or others), diarrhea, vomiting or toxin exposure.

Does my dog need blood tests and lab work?

At Sharon Lakes Animal Hospital our vets recommend blood tests be conducted and lab work done as a proactive measure during an annual routine exam, even if your dog seems perfectly healthy. This is because the sooner we catch health issues, the more effectively we can treat them, preserve your dog’s health, save valuable time, and potentially treat or prevent painful symptoms.

Our veterinary team will always advocate for your pet’s health, explain any tests that are needed and why, and take a preventive approach to your dog’s veterinary care.

How long does blood work take at a vet?

Actually drawing blood from your dog is generally a very quick and painfree process that rarely causes any stress for the dog.

Test results take varying amounts of time to come back depending upon which veterinary office you go to. Depending upon which tests your dog is having done, results can take anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours or even a few days. 

How much are blood tests for dogs?

Blood tests are a cost effective way to help vets determine the overall health of your dog, and to diagnose a range of veterinary condition. 

The cost of your dog's blood tests will be determined by a number of factors including which tests are being run and where you live geographically. The only way to get an accurate estimate of your dog's blood tests is to speak to the team at your veterinary clinic. 

Most animal hospitals are happy to provide clients with a detailed breakdown of costs associated with any treatment their dog may require.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you have a question about your dog's blood work results? Our South Charlotte vets are always happy to help our clients! Contact us today to book an examination for your four-legged friend.

Understanding your dog's blood tests - Why your vet wants your dog to have one.

Looking for a vet in Charlotte?

We're always accepting new patients, so contact our veterinary hospital today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Related Articles View All

Preparing to Leave Your Puppy Alone at Home for the First Time

Dogs are man's best friend (and woman's) but the majority of us are unable to spend every waking hour with our pups. At some point, you will need to leave your dog home alone. How do you prepare so that your puppy's first experience home alone is positive? Try these tips from our South Charlotte vets.

How To Tell If Your Cat Wants Another Cat For Companionship

Cats often seem like aloof, solitary animals but they are actually very sociable creatures who thrive on building intimate ties with other animals. Below, our South Charlotte vets discuss getting a second cat as a companion for your first, and how to introduce them to each other.

Puppy Shots Schedule

Getting your puppy vaccinated helps to protect your new bundle of fur from a wide range of serious, highly contagious diseases. During their first year, your puppy should see the vet several times for vaccines and booster shots to ensure that they are protected. We recommend following this puppy vaccination schedule from our South Charlotte vets.

Why Dog Vaccinations Are Important

Our South Charlotte vets believe that vaccinations play a vital role in protecting your dog against a number of dangerous, and potentially deadly conditions. Below are just a few reasons why it's important to vaccinate your dog and our recommended schedule for your dog's vaccines.

(704) 552-0647 Contact