Laboratory Tests

Why do we run each test?

 

Hematology

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC) - Provides information on hydration status, anemia, infection, blood clotting ability and immune system response by providing information about red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The total white blood cell count as well as leukocyte counts can identify underlying stress, inflammation and inabilities to fight infection. Low platelet numbers can reveal potential bleeding problems. CBC's are typically recommended before surgery as well as when patients present with symptoms such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, pale gums or loss of appetite.

Blood Chemistry - Chemistries are common blood serum tests which evaluate organ function, electrolyte status and hormone levels. Chemistries are typically recommended before surgery as well as for monitoring organ health in pets receiving long-term medications. Your Doctor may also recommend this test when patients present with signs of vomiting, diarrhea or toxin exposure.

  • Alanine Aminotansferase (ALT) - An enzyme that becomes elevated in response to liver cell injury (determines active liver damage but not cause).

  • Albumin (ALB) - A protein produced by the liver that helps assess hydration, hemorrhage and intestinal, liver and kidney disease. 

  • Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP) - An enzyme present in multiple tissues (including liver and bone). Elevations in this test may indicate liver damage, Cushing’s syndrome or steroid therapy.  

  • Amylase (AMYL) - An enzyme secreted by the pancreas to aid in digestion. Elevations in this test may indicate pancreatic or kidney disease.

  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) - An important enzyme in amino acid metabolism. Elevated levels may indicate liver, heart or skeletal muscle damage.

  • Blood Glucose (GLU) - Glucose is a blood sugar. High levels may indicate diabetes (although in cats high levels may also indicate stress), while low levels are associated with liver disease, infection or certain tumors.

  • Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) - BUN is produced by the liver and excreted via the kidneys, therefore this test determines kidney function. An increased level is called azotemia and can indicate kidney disease or dehydration, while low levels can be associated with liver disease.

  • Calcium (Ca+) - Changes in the normal level of this test occur with diseases of the parathyroid gland and kidneys. This can indicate a variety of conditions- including tumors, hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease and low albumin levels.

  • Cholesterol (CHOL) - This test indicates disorders including hypothyroidism, liver disease, Cushing’s disease and diabetes.

  • Coristol (CORT) - A hormone that is measured in tests for both Cushing’s disease (low-dose dexamethasone suppression test) and Addison’s disease (ACTH stimulation test).

  • Creatinine (CREA) - A byproduct of muscle metabolism which is excreted by the kidneys. This test indicates kidney function and dehydration. CREA can help determine the cause of high BUN levels.

  • Globulin (GLOB) - A blood protein that typically elevates with chronic inflammation and certain disease states.

  • Phosphorus (PHOS) - High levels in this test are often indicators of kidney disease, hyperthyroidism and bleeding disorders.

  • Total Bilirubin (TBIL) - Bilirubin is a breakdown product of hemoglobin and a component of bile. Elevations in this test may reveal liver disease, hemolytic disease or certain types of anemia.

  • Total Protein (TP) - Total protein reveals dehydration, inflammation, and disease of the liver, kidneys or intestine.

 

Electrolytes - The balance of the following electrolytes is vital to pet health. Electrolyte levels may be analyzed when patients present with vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and heart symptoms.

  • Chloride (Cl) - An electrolyte that is commonly lost when symptoms like vomiting occur or illnesses such as Addison’s disease. High levels often indicate dehydration.

  • Potassium (K) - An electrolyte that is commonly lost when symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or excessive urination occur. High levels may reveal kidney failure, Addison’s disease, dehydration or urethral obstruction.  Elevated levels can lead to cardiac (heart) arrest. 

  • Sodium (Na) - An electrolyte typically lost through vomiting, diarrhea, kidney disease and Addison’s disease.

Urinalysis (UA) - Urine contains byproducts from many organs (kidneys, liver, pancreas). Levels of these byproducts when abnormal may reveal diabetes, liver disease or urinary tract disease.

 

Electrocardiogram (ECG) - This test measures heart rate and electrical rhythm. Abnormal rates and rhythms can be harmful to animals undergoing surgery.

Endocrinology

  • Thyroxine (T4) - Thyroxine is a thyroid hormone which circulates in the blood. T4 tests measure the levels of this hormone which can aid in identifying thyroid disease. Low levels often signal hypothyroidism in dogs, while high levels indicate hyperthyroidism in cats. Testing is highly recommended for cats over the age of seven.

Other

  • Heartworm - Heartworms are parasites contracted by mosquitoes which can live in the heart, blood vessels and lungs. Heartworm can be identified via a blood test and if left untreated can be life-threatening.

  • Gamma Glutamy Transferase (GGT) - A liver enzyme that reveals liver disease or excessive corticosteroid.

Canine-Specific Tests

  • Lipase (LIP) - An enzyme that may indicate pancreatitis, gastrointestinal disease, and certain drug treatments.

  • Tick-borne diseases - Common tick-borne diseases include Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Yearly screening is recommended because all these diseases can cause serious illnesses.

Feline-Specific Tests

  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) - FIV attacks the immune system which leaves the cat vulnerable to infections. Infected cats may appear normal for years however eventually they suffer from this immune deficiency which allows normally harmless environmental elements to potentially cause severe illnesses.

  • Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) - FeLV is a common infectious diseases in cats. The virus is transmitted through saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, and milk of infected cats.

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