*Note: A complete blood panel is a diagnostic tool used in assessing the overall health of your pet. It is not always definitive and further tests may be necessary.
Complete Blood Count (CBC):
This panel checks the quantity of red blood cells (RBC), platelets and of each type of white blood cell (WBC), to determine if they are within normal limits.
When looking at RBCs, low numbers may indicate anemia. Anemia can be caused by an autoimmune disease, genetic disorders, bacterial or parasitic infections, internal or external bleeding, or certain toxins.
Platelets help with clotting of the blood and low numbers can be caused by an autoimmune disease, tick borne infections, bone marrow disorders and some types of cancer.
WBC numbers may be increased when the body is responding to an infection or inflammation. Low WBC numbers may be present in severe infections or with a bone marrow disorder. If an increase in the number of eosinophils (a certain type of WBC) is noted, it may indicate that the pet has chronic allergies or has a parasitic infection.
This panel is used to assess the general functioning of major organ systems.
Liver (ALT, APL, AST, GGT): Increases in liver enzymes can be seen in pets with liver disease, pancreatic disease, inflammation in the intestines (enteritis), or with cortisone treatment.
Total Bilirubin: Bilirubin is broken down old red blood cells. It is produced by the liver, stored in the gallbladder and excreted into the bile. A marked increase in bilirubin could indicate concern about liver function. Jaundice, yellowing of the skin and mucus membranes, may also be associated with marked bilirubin levels.
Total Protein (Albumin, Globulin): Blood protein is comprised of albumin, which is made by the liver and globulin which is also made by the liver and immune system. A decrease in albumin levels may indicate a disease process in the intestines, liver, kidneys or insufficient nutrient intake. Decreased globulin levels may indicate intestinal disease, while an increase may be due to inflammation and certain cancers.
Creatinine, Phosphorus, Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN): Products of the body’s metabolism, creatinine, BUN and phosphorus are excreted into the urine from the kidneys. Elevations in these values are associated with kidney comprise or failure.
Calcium: Elevations in calcium levels can be associated with a wide range of diseases, most commonly lymphosarcoma. Seizures can be caused by a decreased level in blood calcium and may also be associated with intestinal disease, pregnancy, lactation, or hormone imbalances.
Glucose: An extremely elevated blood glucose can be an indicator of diabetes. Stress or fear at the time of blood draw can also cause an increase in the glucose level. Decreased levels can occur with several different disorders such as liver problems, severe infection, certain cancers, Addison’s disease and malnutrition.
Amylase, Lipase: Produced by the pancreas, amylase and lipase are enzymes associated with digestion. An increase is seen in pets with pancreatitis. An increase may also be seen if the pet just ate or is on a higher fat diet including being fed table scraps. A marked increase in lipase can be seen with pancreatic cancer.
Sodium, Potassium, Chloride: These electrolytes that help to regulate body fluid balance and nervous system activity. Levels may be irregular in pets that are expressing vomiting and/or diarrhea, kidney failure or have Addison’s disease.
CPK: Creatine phosphokinase (CPK) is a muscle enzyme. Levels may be increased when there has been a muscle injury, trauma, overuse or inflammation. Illness that has caused weight loss can also increase CPK levels.
T4: Thyroxine (T4) is a major hormone produced by the thyroid that regulates the body’s metabolism. This is a screening test and further testing may be required to verify diagnosis if levels are abnormal. Hyperthyroidism (hyperactivity, weight loss) occurs when levels are higher than normal and is often seen in cats, while hypothyroidism (sluggishness, weight gain, hair loss) is lower than normal levels and seen more so in dogs.
Other Vital Tests:
Complete Urinalysis: A urinalysis helps to assess kidney function and looks for inflammation or infection in the bladder or kidneys. A urinalysis can help to confirm a diagnosis of diabetes if glucose and/or ketones are present in the urine.
Fecal Testing: Fecal testing checks for the presence of intestinal parasites such as giardia, tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, coccidia. Testing should be performed once to twice a year, even if stools are normal. Infected pets have the potential to pass certain parasites on to humans, as well as other pets.
Heartworm Testing: A heartworm test is a blood test that detects the presence of adult female heartworms within the pet’s heart and/or lungs. When a mosquito bites an infected host (dogs, wolves, fox, coyotes and ferrets) it ingests the tiny heartworm larvae. The larvae develop into the infective stage within the mosquito. When this infected mosquito bites another dog, the infective larvae are deposited into the dog. These microscopic worms develop into adults as they migrate to the heart and lungs where they live and reproduce. *Heartworm tests are more commonly performed on dogs. Most healthy cats are able to fight off an infection on their own.