Does My Pet Need A Blood, Fecal & Urine Testing?

When you bring your pet in for their annual visit, your veterinarian may recommend blood work, fecal testing and urinalysis (urine testing) as part of their wellness exam. Some pet owners might ask, “Is blood work and urine testing really necessary?” -- especially if their pet seems otherwise fine. The answer is yes!

Our pets cannot tell us how they feel and often hide feelings of pain or discomfort. Testing healthy pets’ blood and urine during a wellness visit also provides baseline values to compare to as they age. With ongoing testing, a baseline allows veterinarians to detect changes and illness before ever seeing outward signs of disease.

Routine blood work and urine testing, in combination with a physical exam, gives veterinarians a full picture of your pet’s overall health. Much like when your doctor performs tests during your annual physical, pet blood work and urinalysis allows for early detection of some common diseases and help monitor existing concerns.

If these diagnostic tests uncover any ailment, early detection creates the greatest success rate for either curative treatment or management. In short, diagnosing disease early is key to helping keep your pet healthy, longer.

Common blood tests used by veterinarians

Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Other Blood Tests

Many tests can be run on blood samples, but only a limited number are typically carried out at veterinary clinics. As tests become more automated, we are able to offer a wider range of tests at our clinic, but the many are still done by outside laboratories.

One of the most common tests is a complete blood count (CBC) that analyzes the numbers and appearance of blood cells. The CBC is important in the diagnosis and monitoring of disease and infection. Blood samples are usually taken by the veterinary staff for analysis. There are three main parts of the CBC dedicated to providing information about red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Fecal Tests

Stool samples may be collected by the pet owner before an appointment or they may be collected by the veterinarian. A small amount of the stool sample may be directly applied to a glass slide or first processed within a fluid. The material is then examined under a microscope. The purpose of using certain fluids before stool examination is to detect the presence of the cysts of parasites such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium or eggs of other parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms. Larva, adult worms, or tapeworm segments may also be observed.

Urine Tests

Analysis of urine samples (urinalysis) is important for detecting various types of urinary tract diseases. The sample should be analyzed immediately after collection or be refrigerated and transported to the laboratory as soon as possible after collection. Urine left at room or higher temperature will degrade, and test results will not be accurate. Also, urine samples should not be frozen, because freezing will change several important characteristics of the urine. The tests usually carried out on urine samples include evaluating the appearance, chemistry, and sediment.

Normal urine is yellow or amber in color and should be transparent or clear. The presence of diseases or infections may change the color or clarity. For most pet species, normal urine has a slight odor of ammonia; however, the urine of some pets (such as cats) normally has a pungent odor. A bacterial infection of the urinary tract may produce a strong ammonia odor in the urine.

If your veterinarian suspects a bladder infection, a sample of urine to culture for bacteria may be collected directly from the bladder using a needle and syringe. This process is called cystocentesis.


Benefits of In-House Diagnostics and Bloodwork

When your pet is sick, you don't want to wait days to get the results of blood tests and start his or her treatment. Neither do you want to drive all around Rancho Cucamonga from the vet's office to the lab and back. Our in-house diagnostic lab decreases the time and energy necessary to get your pet the blood tests he or she needs. Plus, you'll get the results much more quickly than if you use an outside lab. We also believe it's easier for your pet to only deal with one technician and one visit than to have him or her visit two separate facilities.

Having a sick pet can be a scary thing. After all, they are part of the family. Baseline Animal Hospital wants to ease some of your anxiety and get your pet on the road to wellness quickly. That's why we've invested in an in-house diagnostic lab. Call us today at (909) 987-4788 to learn more about our in-house testing lab or to make an appointment for your pet.

Outside Laboratory

Many of the tests we uses to diagnose disease require either specialized equipment or training of technicians performing the tests. For these reasons, we have the option to send the samples to an outside laboratory. Some tests are similar to those available in the clinic, but advanced testing equipment and quality control procedures in a specialized facility may offer advantages in speed and accuracy. For example, the specialized laboratory will usually have staff pathologists to identify abnormal red or white blood cells, both of which can help confirm a disease diagnosis, during routine tests on a blood sample.

In addition, at an outside laboratory specialized tests may be performed, such as one to detect larval stages of parasites that are not easily found on standard tests. Because parasites also occur in samples other than stool samples, a direct smear of a pet’s blood on a slide can be analyzed to detect the presence of blood parasites.

Conveniently, the samples are picked up right from our office, so no need to bring your pet to another location for the testing.  

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