Why have a blood test?
Have you ever had a blood test yourself?
You will certainly have had one before a general anaesthetic, and perhaps when you’ve been feeling poorly, but your GP didn’t know why.
The NHS can’t afford to run a yearly blood test for every human in the UK, but if they could, then think of all the cancers, kidney disease, liver problems, thyroid problems, infections, heart conditions and diabetes that would be picked-up EARLY, letting those individuals live a longer, healthier and happier life.
Well that’s why with our new Health Plan, you can give your pet that advantage. Not only a yearly blood test (and a urine test), but also unlimited consultations with the vet.
How do we do a blood test?
We clip a small patch of fur, on the leg or neck, and use a tiny needle (just like the needle we use for routine vaccinations) to take a few millilitres of blood.
We put the blood into special tubes, and then either run it in our practice laboratory (so we get results very quickly), or we send away to an external laboratory if we need more specialised and unusual tests to be run.
What do we test for on a Routine Blood Screen?
We look at the number and size of Red Blood Cells (RBCs). This tells us about anaemia and if there might be any internal bleeding.
Numbers of White Blood Cells (WBCs) tells us about infection; high numbers can indicate certain infections, and low numbers can suggest other types of infection. Raised levels of different types of infections can tell us about the presence of different types of infection.
Platelets are special cells which are responsible for helping the blood to clot. A low platelet level can be very dangerous if a patient needed surgery, as they might not be able to stop bleeding.
Liver enzymes and Kidney values are checked as part of a routine screen, and if found to be high, then we need to look at some other blood tests, to try and work out why they are raised.
Having an anaesthetic, or being given certain medications, can be very dangerous if your pet has raised liver or kidney enzymes. That’s why we recommend a blood test before a general anaesthetic, and that’s why humans have a blood test before a general anaesthetic.
If your pet is found to have raised liver or kidney levels, then there are many effective treatments, done of which are as straightforward as feeding a different food. Catching liver and kidney conditions early means that we can help your pet live longer.
Glucose levels can indicate diabetes, and if we suspect this, then we need to do further tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Calcium levels can indicate presence of cancer. If we detect this, we can do further blood tests, and other tests, to diagnose it. Cancer treatment if started early, can be very effective, and is not the same has human cancer treatment; your pet will not lose their fur.
What else do we test for?
Your dog or cat may need other tests, depending on the planned procedure, or their clinical background.
A lungworm test is vital before any surgery or dental procedure. Lungworm infection is widespread, and can often have no signs. However if present, the infection stops the blood from clotting. This can be fatal.
If your dog hasn’t had monthly lungworm prevention treatment (such as Nexguard or Advocate) then they will need a lungworm test prior to surgery.
Blood Clotting Time is needed if your pet is having surgery to take any internal biopsies, this is usually done as part of the diagnosis of other conditions such as liver disease, or cancer.
Thyroid problems, either low or high levels, are very common in dogs and cats. If we diagnose and treat early, your pet can live a long and happy life. If undiagnosed, these conditions can kill.
Cardiac (heart) disease can be diagnosed with the help of blood tests. We would also recommend an ultrasound scan, and other tests such as X-ray and ECG can be useful. We have a specialist cardiologist who looks after our heart patients.
Should my pet have a blood test before a sedation or general anaesthetic?
Yes they should.
A sedation or general anaesthetic uses medicines which the body needs to process, and this processing is done by the liver and kidneys.
If the liver and kidneys aren’t working at 100%, then this makes the anaesthetic, and recovery afterwards, much more risky.
Should my pet have a blood test if he/she is ‘under the weather’ or ‘not him/herself’?
Your pet can’t speak and tell you how they are feeling. They can’t tell you if they have a headache, or feel tired.
All they can do is go off their food, or not walk as quickly around the field as they usually do, or sleep for an extra few hours.
A blood test lets us see what is going on inside their body, and work out why they don’t seem themselves.