If you are like me then you're always looking for the best deal that you can find! If that means shopping around and comparing what seems like 20 of the same items on Amazon till you find the exact one with a little something added for the same price, SCORE! You can do the same thing with your pet’s health and your Veterinarian will love you for it! Full Panel bloodwork is the best bang for your buck, and you find out SO MUCH information that can be used for years to come.
Running bloodwork on your pet is an expense that is worth the cost! There is so much that can be found by a simple blood draw and give you an insight to what is going on with your pet. Unfortunately, the first time a lot of pets have bloodwork draw to check everything is after they have gotten ill and the veterinarian has recommended it. While this is a great tool that we can use while they are sick and find out a great deal of information, this can also be used preemptively!
When these screenings are done on a healthy pet, we can detect a few different health conditions early. Kidney, heart, thyroid, adrenal disease, and diabetes are all heath concern that we can see early with bloodwork and can be regulated and managed long-term with medications, this helps to decrease the cost of the emergency visits and stays at hospital.
What is a CBC
The CBC informs us about red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
Red Blood Cells
If the red cell count (hematocrit or PCV) is low, your pet is anemic. Then your vet has to find out why your pet is anemic.
If the red cell count is high, your pet is most likely dehydrated. Rarely, a high red blood cell count suggests a disease called polycythemia.
Are the red blood cells healthy? A simple CBC tells us much about your pet’s actual red blood cells, which is like a window into your pet’s bone marrow, spleen and kidneys.
White Blood Cells
There are a number of different white blood cells in your pet’s peripheral blood.
The kind of white cells and the relative numbers of these cells help your vet decide whether your pet might be suffering from an infection, bacterial or viral, inflammation or cancer.
Although the white cell count does not give us specifics about where an infection might be, where the inflammation is coming from or if your pet actually has cancer, it can lead us in a specific diagnostic direction.
Platelets are proteins that help pets make a blood clot. A low platelet count is a worry and should be addressed, particularly before any surgery.
What is a Chemistry? These common blood serum tests evaluate organ function, electrolyte status, hormone levels and more. They are important in evaluating older pets, pets with vomiting, diarrhea or toxin exposure, pets receiving long-term medications, health before anesthesia, and overall wellbeing. Depending on the how much information your veterinarian is looking for there is a range of how many different tests can be ran. Below are the most common that are ran the, as well as the ones that we most likely will talk to you about.
Blood Glucose: An increased blood glucose is known as hyperglycemia. Mild elevations can occur with stress or excitement during the time of the blood draw, particularly in cats. More significant elevations in the blood glucose are most often the result of diabetes. Hypoglycemia occurs when the blood glucose drops too low. Hypoglycemia is a frequent problem in young puppies, especially the toy and smaller breeds. These animals may seem weak, uncoordinated and even have seizures. Certain liver diseases, overproduction or overdosing of insulin or hypothyroidism can also lead to hypoglycemia.
BUN: 'BUN' stands for blood urea nitrogen. As protein is broken down by the body, the by-product of this metabolism is nitrogen-containing urea compounds. These are of no use to the body and are excreted by the kidneys. However, if the kidneys are not working correctly and filtering these compounds from the blood, they build up to excessively high levels. When the BUN result is high, it is only an indication that the nitrogen wastes of protein are not being removed from the body. While kidney disease is the primary reason for studying the BUN level, there can be other causes for its elevation. Significant BUN elevations can also occur as the result of dehydration, heart failure, intestinal bleeding, excessive protein intake or certain drugs. Lower than normal BUN levels are frequently noted in liver disease, but can also occur with malabsorptive diseases or a poor diet.
Creatinine: Creatinine is used to measure the filtration rate of the kidneys. Only the kidneys excrete this substance. If it builds up to higher than normal levels, it is a sign of decreased or impaired function of the kidneys. Low levels of creatinine are less common, but can occur due to a low protein intake, some liver diseases or pregnancy.
Calcium: Calcium is a mineral that is found in consistent levels within the bloodstream. While an animal is pregnant or nursing, the calcium level can become seriously depressed in a disease called eclampsia. Additionally, certain medications, tumors or other conditions can affect calcium levels. It is important to detect an abnormal blood level of calcium quickly before it leads to serious heart and muscle disorders.
Total Protein: The total protein level is a combined measurement of two blood protein molecules, albumin and globulin. Albumin is normally produced by the liver. Low albumin levels can occur as a result of liver disease, poor quality nutrition, intestinal malabsorption, serious burns, low calcium levels or following chronic infectious. Increases in albumin levels are uncommon and typically are a result of dehydration. The term globulins includes immunoglobulins, which are produced by the immune system as part of the body’s defense against bacteria and viruses. Elevated globulins can occur with severe dental disease, feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), lymphoma, leukemia or multiple myeloma.
Bilirubin: Bilirubin is by-product of the breakdown of hemoglobin, which is the molecule within red blood cells that is responsible for carrying oxygen to the tissues. When the blood cells die or are destroyed, hemoglobin is released, quickly broken down and excreted by the liver as bilirubin. Therefore, bilirubin levels may be higher than normal when excessive numbers of red blood cells are breaking down, or if the liver is diseased and unable to clear the bilirubin from the blood. Levels of bilirubin may also increase if there is an obstruction within the liver or bile duct that prevents the bilirubin from being released into the intestine.
Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP): Serum alkaline phosphatase (often abbreviated 'SAP' or ‘ALP’) belongs to a class of compounds called enzymes. These are protein molecules that function to assist various chemical reactions. Alkaline phosphatase can increase during normal conditions, such as growth or pregnancy, as well as with liver disease, bone injuries, corticosteroid administration and dental disease. Low levels of alkaline phosphatase are not thought to be clinically significant in animals.
Alanine Amino Transferase (ALT): Alanine amino transferase is also referred to as serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase (SGPT) and is an enzyme important in liver function. An elevation usually means that the liver cells are breaking down due to cancer, infection, congestion with blood (as in heart failure), failure due to cirrhosis or many other conditions. Basically, anything that adversely affects the liver or its ability to function correctly will elevate the ALT.
Cholesterol: Cholesterol levels in animals do not have the same connotation as they do in human medicine. Hardening and obstruction of the vessels of the heart is not a common problem in canine and feline medicine. Rather, cholesterol deviations are generally secondary signs of other diseases. Animals with inadequately functioning thyroid glands often have elevated cholesterol. Starving animals or those with poor levels of nourishment may have lower than expected cholesterol.
Sodium and Potassium: Sodium and potassium levels are interpreted together. Their levels can be seriously affected in diseases of the adrenal glands, heart, kidneys, by various medications or many other conditions.
The tests listed above provide direct evaluations of the health of the liver, kidneys, adrenal glands, immune system and other body systems. Still, as with the CBC, the chemistry panel is just a picture of the patient’s body at one moment in time. The readings may be very different if repeated in one week or even just one day. While a chemistry panel often sheds a considerable amount of light on an animal’s organ function and any existing problems, it is important to remember that this test may not provide the conclusive answer that a pet owner and veterinarian are hoping to obtain. The veterinarian must always take into consideration everything that is affecting the patient and in turn, how that may affect the test results.
Here is a helpful little Cheat sheet that goes over all sorts of values that we look at: