by: Dr. Barb Eatock
If your pet is sick, your veterinarian may recommend performing lab tests to help determine the underlying cause of your pet’s symptoms. These tests can provide a lot of important information to your veterinarian regarding the diagnosis and therefore the appropriate treatment. Even if all the results come back in the normal range, this helps your veterinarian rule out several potential causes of the symptoms your pet is having and these results can then be used as a baseline to compare to future tests.
The most common laboratory tests for a veterinarian to recommend are bloodwork and a urine sample. The veterinarian may recommend other tests such as an examination of a stool sample; depending on specific symptoms. Bloodwork may include a complete bloodcount, chemistry or additional tests. The complete blood can help determine whether your pet is anemic, has an inflammatory response and whether he or she has enough platelets to aid with blood clotting. The chemistry shows whether your pet has liver, kidney, or pancreatic disease, checks protein and electrolyte (sodium, potassium, and chloride) levels, and checks blood sugar and calcium levels. The blood count and chemistry can also be used to determine if patients are a good candidate for an anesthetic procedure. Urine samples also provide important information such as infection, blood (which may indicate bladder stones or other problems), sugar in the urine (which may indicate diabetes), and how concentrated the urine is (which can help determine whether the kidneys are functioning properly).
Additional tests which may be recommended depending on species, age and symprotms, include thyroid tests and tests for certain viruses such as parvo, feline leukemia, and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Most tests can be performed in clinic with same day results; tests that need to be sent away will generally have results back within a few days.
Lab tests are a very important tool for your veterinarian. They provide essential information to allow for a precise diagnosis, which allows your veterinarian to provide specific treatment, which can help save time, money, and prevent the needless suffering of your pet.