Reading Your Pet’s Blood Test Results
Did your pet recently have bloodwork or other diagnostic testing done at Eastown Veterinary Clinic? Though we try our best to thoroughly explain what results mean, we know it’s easy to get confused by all the medical jargon and terminology. Here are some explanations for the common values we test when your pet has bloodwork or urine testing done at our clinic:
Blood proteins: Blood proteins are found in plasma, and they serve many functions in the body, like transporting vitamins, minerals and hormones. They also help regulate the immune system, so checking blood proteins allows us to see if there are any issues with your pet’s immune system.
Liver function: We can check liver function by determining how many liver enzymes are in the blood. Typically, these enzymes are kept in the liver, but when the liver is damaged or not functioning properly, these enzymes are found at high levels in the blood, too.
Kidney function: We can see how your pet’s kidneys are functioning by testing levels of creatinine, a substance excreted by the kidneys, and blood urea nitrogen, by-products from consumed proteins, in the blood. Damaged kidneys often excrete higher levels of creatinine and don’t filter out blood urea nitrogen as well as they usually do.
Blood sugar: With blood tests, we can see how well your pet’s pancreas is regulating blood sugar. High amounts of sugar in the blood is often a clear indication of diabetes.
Electrolytes: Variation in the blood’s electrolyte levels can provide insight into a whole host of potential health issues. Sodium levels can indicate dehydration, high levels of potassium can be proof of kidney failure, dehydration, urethral obstruction, severe heart problems or Addison’s disease and high levels of chloride can also generally be attributed to dehydration.
Pancreatic values: Blood tests show us pancreatic enzyme levels, which can be used to diagnose pancreatitis, or an inflamed pancreas. High levels of the enzymes amylase and lipase generally indicate pancreatitis.
Thyroid: Thyroid problems are easily diagnosable with blood tests. Variation to normal levels of the T4 hormone, which is only produced in the thyroid, indicates an overactive or underactive thyroid.
Platelets for clotting: A thrombocyte count, or blood platelet count, checks how well your pet’s blood can clot. Low levels can occur for many reasons, from an immune system attack on platelets, to slower platelet production from the bone marrow, to excess clotting somewhere in the body.
White blood cells: Leukocytes, or white blood cells, defend the body against bacteria and viruses. White blood cell count can be greatly elevated or lowered when a pet is actively fighting a disease. Low white blood cell counts can also indicate that bone marrow isn’t producing as many white blood cells as it should.
Urine concentration: Urine concentration tests allow us to check a pet’s kidney function and adrenal gland function. Highly concentrated urine means not enough water is being eliminated, and diluted urine means too much water is being eliminated. Both can indicate problems, and diluted urine in particular is often a sign of kidney disease, as it shows that the kidneys are unable to retain enough water.
For more information on your pet’s blood or urine test results, please contact Eastown Veterinary Clinic by calling 616.649.1075.