UNDERSTANDING YOUR PET’S BLOOD, TISSUE & URINE LABORATORY RESULTS
Blood and urine tests help determine causes of illness accurately, safely, and quickly allow us to monitor the progress of case management and medical treatments.
If possible, do not feed your pet for about 6 hours before your appointment. Fasting helps to clear the blood of lipemia, fat droplets that appear after eating. Lipemia can interfere with some blood tests and make the results difficult to interpret.
This guide can help you understand your pet’s laboratory diagnostic test results. Proper communication with your veterinarian is essential regarding interpretation of any lab results. Normal reference laboratory ranges are not provided here, as these may vary depending upon the type of instrumentation and reagents used. Each veterinary diagnostic laboratory or in-clinic diagnostic test machine comes with its own normal reference ranges.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
A CBC gives information on hydration status, anemia, infection, the blood’s clotting ability (platelet count), and the ability of the immune system (white blood cells) to respond to a stress or other disease event. This test is important for pets with fevers, vomiting, weakness, pale gums, or loss of appetite. If your pet needs surgery, a CBC may detect a potential bleeding disorder or other unseen abnormalities.
Hematocrit (HCT, PCV) measures the percentage of red blood cells in the sample to detect conditions such as anemia and dehydration. Normal Ranges for Canine is 35% to 55%
Hemoglobin (HGB) and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (MCHC) measures the oxygen-carrying pigments of red blood cells. Normal Ranges for Canine is 120-180 g/l
White blood cell (WBC) or leukocyte count measures the body’s ability to respond to stress or a variety of conditions. Increases or decreases indicate certain diseases or infections. Normal Ranges for Canine is 5,500 – 16,900 ml
Granulocytes (neutrophils; PMNs), lymphocytes and monocytes are specific types of white blood cells.
Eosinophils are another specific type of white blood cell that may indicate allergic or parasitic conditions.
Platelet count measures the tiny cells that help form blood clots. Normal Ranges for Canine is 3000 – 12000 ml
Reticulocytes (RETICS) and nucleated red blood cells are immature red blood cells. High levels indicate a regenerative anemia. Normal Ranges for Canine are 0-1.5%
White Blood Cell Count (WBC) measures the body’s immune and infection fighting cells. Increases or decreases indicate certain diseases such as cancer/leukemia or infections. Normal Ranges for Canine including all white cell types are 5500 - 1690 per ml.
Neutropils, Lymphocytes, Monocytes (NEU, LYM, MONO) are specific types of white blood cells which fight infection. If these are elevated it can indicate an infection or cancer. Normal Ranges for Canine NEU- 3000 - 12000 ml, LYM - 1000 - 4900 ml, MONO- 100-1400
Eosinophils (EOS) are a specific type of white blood cells the if elevated may indicate allergic or parasitic conditions. Normal Ranges for Canine are 0.75 x 10.9/L
Platelet Count (PLT) measures the cells that help form blood clots and control bleeding. Normal Ranges for Canine is >200,000/µL
Serum Blood Chemistries
These tests evaluate organ function, electrolyte status, and hormone levels. They also give barometers of adrenal function and other diseases. We use these tests for base lines as pets age, pre-anesthetic evaluation, monitoring long term medications, as well as evaluating sick animals.
Albumin (ALB) is an important serum protein that helps evaluate hydration, presence of blood loss from hemorrhage, and intestinal, liver, and kidney disease. It maintains the oncotic pressure that keeps the fluid within the blood vessels rather than allowing it to leak out into the tissues. Normal Ranges for Canine are 2.5-4.3 g/dl
Alkaline phosphatase (ALK P) elevations may indicate liver damage, Cushing’s disease (overactive adrenal function), and active bone growth in young pets. Levels rise slightly as animals age. This test is especially significant in cats as even slight elevations may indicate of liver disease. Normal Ranges for Canine are 20-200 u/l
Alanine aminotransferase (ALT, SGPT) is an indicator of active liver cell damage but does not identify the underlying cause. Liver cleansing herbs such as milk thistle or SAMe are used along with a grain-free liver sparing diet, once more definitive diagnostics are completed. Normal Ranges for Canine are 7-56 units per liter
Amylase (AMYL) elevations show pancreatitis, when the serum lipase is also high, or become increased in the presence of kidney disease. Normal Ranges for Canine are 200-1290 N/A
Aspartate aminotransferase (AST, SGOT) increases may indicate liver, heart, or skeletal muscle damage, but this is an enzyme released from many injured cells. Typically the range for normal AST is reported between 10 to 40 units per liter and ALT between 7 to 56 units per liter. Mild elevations are generally considered to be 2-3 times higher than the normal range. Normal Ranges for Canine are 10-40 U/D
Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) indicates the amount of protein nitrogen in the blood and usually reflects kidney function. An increased blood level is called azotemia and may be caused by kidney, liver, heart disease, urethral obstruction, shock, dehydration, impaired intestinal food absorption, or an intestinal or stomach foreign body. A low BUN may indicate a cirrhotic liver or portal caval liver shunt. It can be elevated normally as a result of eating a raw diet. Normal Ranges for Canine are 6-24 mg/dl
Calcium (CA) deviations may indicate a variety of diseases. Cancers, kidney disease, hyperparathyroidism, and anal gland tumor, are just a few of the diseases that alter calcium levels. In dogs, but not cats, the calcium concentration is corrected upwards when the albumin level is below 3.5 mg/dl. The result is the corrected calcium. Normal Ranges for Canine are 9.5-12 mg/dl
Cholesterol (CHOL) may be altered in hypothyroidism, liver disease, Cushing’s disease, high fat diets, and diabetes mellitus. Normal Ranges for Canine are 110-314 MG/DL
Chloride (CL) is an electrolyte often lost with vomiting and in Addison’s disease (underactive adrenal function). Elevations may indicate dehydration. Normal Ranges for Canine are 105-120 mEq/L
Cortisol is a hormone released in pulsatile fashion from the adrenal glands in response to stress or certain adrenal diseases. More specific, dynamic diagnostic tests of adrenal function (ACTH stimulation test, low-dose dexamethasone suppression test, and urine cortisol-creatinine ratio).
Creatinine level (CREA) reflects kidney function. This test helps distinguish between kidney (renal) and non-renal causes of an elevated BUN. An indicator of kidney function. Normal Ranges for Canine are .04-1.4 mg/dl
Gamma glutamyl transferase (GGPT/ GGT) is an enzyme that specifically measures bile flow through the liver. Stasis of bile flow is seen in liver or gall bladder disease and in corticosteroid excess. Normal Ranges for Canine are 1.2 U/L
Globulin level (GLOB) reflects all the blood proteins other than albumin, and typically increases with chronic inflammation and certain diseases such as feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). Low levels are seen in the very young and in immune deficiency states,
Glucose is a blood sugar. Elevated levels may indicate diabetes mellitus (cats, dogs). Low levels can cause fainting, collapse, seizures, or coma. It is often increases with chronic inflammation and certain disease states. Normal Ranges for Canine are 0.9-4.0 g/dl
Glucose (GLU) is a blood sugar. Elevated levels may indicate diabetes mellitus. Low levels can cause collapse, seizures, or coma. When a pet is nervous, the blood glucose can be normally elevated. In dogs blood glucose should be under 180 (65-120 mg/dl) and in cats under 250.
Potassium (K) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive urination. Increased levels may indicate kidney failure, Addison’s disease, dehydration, and urethral obstruction. High levels are normal in the Japanese dog breeds because of their unique red blood cell membrane. In disease states, high levels can lead to cardiac arrest. Low levels may occur with loss of appetite especially in cats. Normal Ranges for Canine are 3.4-5.4 mEq/L
Lipase is an enzyme that may indicate pancreatitis, when the serum amylase is also elevated. Normal Ranges for Canine are 120-258 u/l
Sodium (NA) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea, kidney disorders, and Addison’s disease. This test helps indicate hydration status. Normal Ranges for Canine are 140-151 mEq/L
Phosphorus (Phos) elevations are often associated with kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and some bleeding disorders.
Bilirubin elevations may indicate liver, gall bladder, or hemolytic diseases. Normal Ranges for Canine are 3.3-6.8 mg/dl
*Total protein indicates hydration status and provides additional information about the liver, intestine, kidney, and presence of infection.
Total Bilirubin (TBIL) elevations may indicate liver or blood hemolytic disease. This test helps identify bile duct problems and certain types of anemia.
Total Protein (TP) can indicate your pet’s hydration status and provides additional information about the liver, kidneys, and infectious diseases.
Thyroxine (T4) is a thyroid hormone. Decreased levels often signal hypothyroidism in dogs, while high levels indicate hyperthyroidism in cats.
Thyroid tests (T4, FreeT4, T3, FreeT3, TSH, and TgAA) are performed to measure thyroid function. A complete thyroid antibody profile id much preferred over a simple total T4 test, which can be misleading. Age- and breed-specific normal ranges should be taken into account. Genetic screening of dogs intended for breeding is important, as up to 90% of canine thyroid disease is due to heritable autoimmune thyroiditis. Dogs testing positive for this heritable disorder need to be treated with thyroid hormone and should not be used for breeding purposes. Decreased levels may signal hypothyroidism, non-thyroidal illness or use of certain drugs, while high levels indicate hyperthyroidism in older cats, may also occur from eating the throat or gullet part of red raw meat and in thyroid tumors. .
TLI, B12, Folate are intestinal tests to indicate malfunction of the digestive tract of cats and dogs.
Bile Acids are measured as a specific test for liver function, including congenital liver shunts (portacaval shunts, microvascular dysplasia), cirrhosis, and active liver disease. They can also be measured in urine.
Fecal exams analyze for intestinal parasites of various types.
Evaluates kidney function, bladder pathology including tumors, urinary tract infections, urine concentration, presence of bladder stones and crystals.
Urine-Cortisol Creatinine Ratio (UCCR) is a simple screening test for Cushing’s disease. Must be performed on urine collected at home, first thing in the morning and before exercise.
Urine-Protein Creatinine Ratio (UPCR) measures kidney function and is abnormal in kidney failure.
Cytology is performed by a pathologist looking at a tissue or body fluid sample for evidence of any abnormality.
Culture and Sensitivity is measured on a body discharge or urine sample to determine the type of bacteria or fungus present, and the best antibiotic or antifungal drug to treat the condition.
Biopsy is a sample of tissue sent to a pathology laboratory for analysis. Histopathology is performed on specially prepared stained or frozen sections of the tissue to identify any abnormality.