Blood work is an essential element of preventive medicine for senior cats and dogs (and for some younger pets). But understanding your pet’s blood work can be challenging. Here’s a basic overview of blood work results. Make sure to consult your veterinarian with any specific questions about your dog or cat.
Just like with humans, animals are at more risk of health issues as they age. That’s why veterinarians typically recommend cats and small dogs start getting senior blood work between 8-10 years of age, and larger dogs between ages 6-7.
Understanding Your Pet’s Blood Work: Three Panels
To get a good picture of your pet’s organ function and overall health of their internal systems, these three panels are typically done:
- CBC – Complete Blood Count
- Major Profile
- Thyroid Screening (urinalysis, not blood)
The CBC measures the elements of your pet’s blood: Red Blood Cell Parameters, White Blood Cell Parameters, and Platelet Parameters. There are more than 10 parameters measures, including red blood cell count, white blood cell count and platelet mass.
A Major Profile (or Chemistry Profile) gives results on major internal systems, including the Kidney, Liver, and Pancreas, along with measuring Protein, Electrolytes and up to eight other miscellaneous chemistries. These multiple tests analyzed together create a profile of the health of your pet’s major organ systems. They include over 18 different measures.
Urinalysis measures 10 different aspects in your pet’s urine to provide insight into kidney and thyroid function including specific gravity, pH, protein, glucose, ketones, etc.
For more detailed information on each of these three panels, see this helpful PDF from IDEXX Laboratories.
Understanding Your Pet’s Blood Work: Definitive Results
If the results are clear and definitive, your veterinarian can make a diagnosis and treatment plan right away. Definitive results indicate a specific health condition. Treatment depends on the health condition, but may include:
- Change in diet
Understanding Your Pet’s Blood Work: Indicative Results
These results are out of the norm and indicate a problem, but not a specific health condition. Typically, more information is required to make a diagnosis, and further testing is recommended. Other diagnostics could include:
- CT scan
- Additional blood work
Understanding Your Pet’s Blood Work: Normal Results
Good news! Normal blood work results indicate your pet is healthy and entering their senior years in good condition. After receiving normal results, your veterinarian will likely recommend to repeat the geriatric blood work annually. If health issues develop, or your pet’s condition changes, your veterinarian’s recommendations will change accordingly.
Have questions about blood work for cats or dogs? Contact us.