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Blood and other tests help determine a dog’s health

(Part  1 of two parts)

The best way to do something 101 per cent or more is to understand the many aspects of what one has decided to embark in.

This holds true for having a pert or rescuing animals in need.

Since 1998, my children have been rescuing animals. They would feed stray dogs and cats, and even hens!

It was thus easy for the family to decide to join animal welfare advocates in rescuing 34 dogs and two cats from the Payatas dog pound in Quezon City.  The 36 animals were to put to sleep or killed.

Blood and other tests help determine a dog’s health
Mango, a senior dog at 11-12 years old, go to the clinic for a blood test twice a year to check his organs' functions, and his body's overall health.
This led to the creation of  Save ALL Inc.- Save Animals of Love and Light, the rescues of which our family continues to help to this day.

We have been rescuing dogs and cats and bringing rescues to clinics for medical treatment.

Through the years, we learned that pet owners and rescuers alike must know what the blood test results mean to be able to provide the best care for our pets or rescues.

The canine blood tests serve as very important tools for the vet to detect, identify, diagnose and even treat illness or disease.

In the article “Understanding Dog Blood Test,” the Drake Center for Veterinary care noted: “A blood test or lab test allows us to learn information about your dog’s health which can only be found from collecting a sample of blood and having it analyzed. This includes a CBC (complete blood count) and blood chemistries that analyze chemical components in the blood.”

“A CBC for dogs identifies and quantifies white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets in a given amount of blood. This includes analyzing the shape and condition of the cells for health and functionality. This information is helpful in learning more about your dog's immune system (white blood cells) and oxygen carrying capacity (red blood cell count), “ the Drake Center added.

Blood tests for dogs can also identify the following:

§  Glucose

§  Proteins

§  Electrolytes

§  Cholesterol

§  Endocrine Levels

§  Digestive Enzymes

Here are some things we learned about the items indicated the blood test results:

1. High WBC or white blood cell count can mean an infection.

2. Low hemoglobin (HGBT) and low hematocrit (HCT) can mean the dog is anemic.

3.  As Drake Center said, a deficiency in albumin levels will require a check on the liver as albumin is produced in the liver.

Blood and other tests help determine a dog’s health
Rafa, a four-year-old rescued dog who survived parvo and leptospirosis, is the most calm dog we know.  He smiles even when a vet is about to take a blood sample and during the extraction itself. Such a sweet, friendly dog! Not all dogs are this easy to handle during blood extraction. It is suggested that the dog be programmed to like vet visits by introducing him or her to a friendly vet when he or she is just a puppy. It is also recommended that no fuss is made during blood extraction or vaccination or any procedure involving needles. 
“Lab work for dogs also can detect and help identify complex problems with body systems. For example, blood tests for dogs can detect abnormal hormonal-chemical responses to environmental and internal stimuli, which alerts a veterinarian to a potential issue with the patient's endocrine system,” the Drake Center said.

When a blood test is needed

Drake center identified the following situations wherein a dog blood work may be ordered:

1. On the first veterinary visit. 

A blood test is recommended for puppies to rule out congenital diseases, for baseline information, and for pre-anesthetic testing prior to spay or neuter.  

2. During semi-annual wellness exams.

The veterinarian recommends a blood test because the blood work, along with tests using other bodily fluids like urine, can help identify conditions that a physical examination cannot.

§  If a dog seems unwell.

This is recommended if the dog is not his usual self.

3. Pre-surgical tests.

The test will determine if the liver and kidneys are functioning well. This helps the veterinarian select the safest dose of anesthesia. Tests can also determine the risk level in infirmed, elderly or injured patients.

4. Prior to starting a new medication.

This helps to find out if the new medication may be metabolized by the liver or kidney

5. During senior wellness exams: 

Dog blood tests for mature, senior or geriatric dogs are recommended as part of their regular wellness check.

“These are extremely beneficial, as we often see senior dogs return to a more youthful state of being when blood tests identify an issue that can be easily treated, “ the Drake Center said.

The other most common lab work for dogs are:

§  Urinalysis: The dog's urine  is evaluated to determine  hydration status, infections, kidney or bladder disease, diabetes and other health conditions

§  Fecal Exam: A stool exam is done to check for intestinal parasites, fungus, or protozoa. A stool sample is also checked for color, consistency, and the presence of blood or mucus.

§  Complete Blood Count (CBC): The dog's blood is used to assess features of the blood, including red and white cell count, immunity status, and the measure of hemoglobin, which is the actual substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen

§  Blood Clotting Times: A  dog's blood is analyzed for bleeding disorders.

§  Blood Chemistries: The dog's internal organs is checked, and their health gauged before anesthetizing for surgery.

§  Cytology:  Samples of sebum and cellular debris on the skin and in the ears are collected to determine if infection is present. Needle or core biopsy of lumps or masses on the dog's body may also be performed to look for cancer cells.

“We recommend discussing lab tests for dogs with your veterinarian, in order to make an informed decision as to whether or not your canine friend can benefit from dog blood work,” the Drake Center said.

Next week: Understanding the values and acronyms in the blood test result

Topics: Blood tests , dog’s health , Save ALL Inc. , Save Animals of Love and Light

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