We can perform a range of blood tests at Elwood Vet, meaning we can get results within minutes of taking the sample.
What can we test for?
Routine in-house blood tests include:
- haematology – this is analysis of the red and white blood cells and show up issues such as anaemia, infection and some cancers
- biochemistry – this is the chemical analysis of the blood plasma and looks for problems with organs (eg liver, kidney, pancreas), with metabolism (eg diabetes) and for possible cancers
- electrolytes – these are the ‘salts’ of the body
- thyroid levels – older cats often develop an overactive thyroid, while some dogs have low thyroid levels
- pancreatic lipase – this can help us diagnose pancreatitis (although we often use ultrasound instead)
We can also test for FIV infection in cats and perform blood typing in cats and dogs (for blood transfusions).
There are some tests that can only be done at a specialised laboratory. If your pet needs one of these, we send the sample via courier to the laboratory. When we get the results will depend on the test. For many, we get same or next day results but some tests can take a up to a month (eg DNA testing).
Is any preparation necessary?
In most cases we aim to get a fasting sample. This really just means that your pet skips breakfast on the day of the test. This isn't always necessary or even possible, and we consider things on a case by case basis.
What happens during a blood test?
This is usually a two-person job – one holds the pet in the right position and raises the vein, and the other person takes the blood.
To get the best sample, we usually take blood from the largest vein that we can access. For cats and small dogs, this is the jugular vein. For larger dogs, we might use the jugular or a leg vein.
For pets with short hair and easily seen veins, we can often take blood without shaving the fur. For others, we clip a small square of fur away from over the vein.
If we only need a drop, like with glucose testing in diabetics, we'll sometimes use an ear vein. This is like a finger prick for pets.
By looking at urine we can assess:
- how well the kidneys can concentrate the urine (this is the specific gravity)
- the pH (acidity) of the urine
- if there is any blood, glucose, ketones, protein, bilirubin
- if there are signs of kidney injury such as casts
- if bacteria and/or crystals are present
If we are concerned about a urinary tract infection, we will often send urine off to an external laboratory so they can grow the bacteria and see what antibiotics they respond to.
In most cases, if we need to do faecal testing, we send samples to an external laboratory where special testing can be done.