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How Often Should Dogs Have Blood Work?

graphic showing how often dogs should have blood work done by their veterinarian
Picture of Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal is the founder and lead veterinarian for Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic. Coufal graduated from State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in May of 2000.

Knowing when to do blood work for your dog can be confusing. You want to ensure your pet is as healthy as possible, but at the same time, you may be wondering if spending money on testing is worth the cost. While having annual lab work done is suggested by most veterinarians, but sometimes it’s not explained very well why these tests can be so important for your dog’s health.

At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, we take pet wellness and safety seriously because we understand that your pet’s health is also your happiness. Located in Colorado Springs, we strive to educate pet owners about the science behind our various services such as wellness exams, vaccines, and lab work, as well as the benefits of getting blood work for your pets. 

The Benefits of Blood Testing Your Dog

In addition to vaccinations and annual physicals, dogs also need comprehensive blood tests. The value of getting your dog blood tested is assurance your dog is healthy. With blood work, veterinarians will be able to evaluate your dog’s overall health down to the microscopic detail. While physicals can help determine if your dog is outwardly healthy, blood tests will reveal any hidden abnormalities before they become fatal or life-threatening in the future. 

graphic showing how often dogs should have blood work done by their veterinarian

When Should Dogs Get Blood Work Done?

First Veterinarian Visit

It is best to get your dog’s blood tested when they are puppies. The results of these early blood tests will give veterinarians a baseline to reference. Although rare, the first blood test will also indicate if there are any signs of kidney, liver, or heart disease.

Pre-surgical Test

Getting blood work done before your pet undergoes surgery will provide veterinarians vital information to determine the right dose of anesthesia to administer. The results will also show if your dog has low platelet levels, which helps determine if your dog is at risk for blood clotting. Surgery is a major operation, so veterinarians must take every precaution necessary to ensure safety for your pet.

Senior Wellness Exams

Given dogs have a much shorter lifespan than humans, wellness exams for geriatric dogs are always recommended. The results will show veterinarians any abnormalities, which means keeping track of your dog’s health when they are most susceptible.

Annual Wellness Exams

Although the most controversial, veterinarians will likely always recommend annual blood work, as they are trained to be thorough about animal health. It also allows us as vets to spot any concerning changes in your dog’s health that may not be obvious to the eye. 

How Do Blood Tests Work?

Blood testing reveals valuable information to veterinarians about your animal’s health. Blood tests are conducted through two ways:

  1. Complete Blood Count (CBC) 
  2. Blood Chemistries 

Complete Blood Count (CBC) 

CBC testing will determine red cell count, white cell count, Mean Cell Volume (MCV), and platelet levels.

  • Red cell count and MCV helps to determine if any blood clotting, anemia, or dehydration is occurring.
  • White cell count helps to determine the condition of your dog’s overall immune system. High or low numbers of white cells could indicate your dog is fighting infection, disease, or inflammation.
  • Platelet levels, when too high, can lead to blood clotting.

Blood Chemistries 

Blood chemistries, or blood serum tests, help to determine hormone and electrolyte imbalances alongside organ functionality (liver, kidneys, etc). A blood serum test can determine if your dog is within a “normal” range of the following elements: 

  • Sodium – Low levels often indicate dehydration. 
  • Potassium – High levels often indicates kidney failure, dehydration, or in extreme cases, risk of heart attack
  • Phosphorus – High levels often indicate kidney failure.
  • Calcium – High or low levels indicate a variety of diseases such as tumors or kidney disease. 
  • Chloride – High levels often indicates dehydration or Addison’s disease.
  • Lipase  – High levels often indicate pancreatitis. 
  • Cholesterol – High or low levels help determine if hypothyroidism, liver disease, or diabetes is present.
  • Glucose – High levels often indicate diabetes; low levels indicate risk of collapsing, seizure, or coma.
  • Cortisol – Levels help determine hormonal balance.

This list of chemicals tested for is not exhaustive, but a preview for what veterinarians look for in evaluating your dog’s health. Although blood testing can seem like an unnecessary task on your to-do list, getting blood work done by your local veterinarian will ensure your dog is getting the best preventative care for a long, happy life.

Get Blood Testing For Your Dog Done Today | Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic

Of course, you know your pet better than anyone else. If you are noticing your dog is acting unusual despite being in overall good health, getting blood tests done can bring peace of mind to you as a dog owner. Some symptoms to look out for include lethargy, fever, vomiting, fatigue, diarreia, or lack of appetite. If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your local veterinarian right away. 

At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, we believe the best defense is offense. Getting blood work done is recommended for new dog owners, dogs preparing for surgery, dogs with health conditions, and geriatric dogs. However, at our clinic located in Colorado Springs, we recommend getting blood work done on a yearly basis to ensure your dog is getting the best care possible. Contact us today to schedule your next lab screening!

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Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic is seeking an enthusiastic and caring veterinarian to work relief, part-time or full-time in our general practice. PVC is a full-service, 3+ doctor, small-animal veterinary hospital. We have established an excellent reputation for developing lasting relationships with our clients and for providing compassionate and quality care to our patients.