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Blood Count and Urinalysis for Dogs

At some time in your dog’s life, it is highly likely that laboratory tests will be performed. These can range from very simple tests, such as fecal checks for parasites or heartworm tests looking for antigens, to sophisticated bloodwork checking out various organs and their functioning. The most common tests done to the blood and urine are discussed here. Blood samples are normally taken from your dog’s vein-either a leg or the jugular vein in the neck. Fasting is recommended before blood tests.

Complete Blood Count (CBC) or Hemogram

A CBC is done on blood taken directly from your dog’s vein. The goal is to count the different types of cells present in your dog’s blood. At the same time, an evaluation is made about the types of cells and their health and life stages. Blood counts may be lowered overall in dogs with bone marrow disorders and those undergoing certain types of chemotherapy.

PCV or Hematocrit:

This test checks to see approximately how many red blood cells your dog has. Blood in a tiny tube is spun in a centrifuge and the number of red blood cells is given as a percent of the total blood volume. Normal dogs run about 35 to 50 percent. A low PCV indicates anemia, which could have a number of causes from hemorrhage to liver or kidney disease. A high PCV is often present in dogs who are dehydrated.

RBC Data

With the red blood cells (RBC), an actual count is made by estimating from the number of cells spread on a slide and examined under a microscope. The amount of hemoglobin present and the age and size of the red blood cells are also measured. MCV is mean corpuscular volume, which is the average size of the red blood cells. MCH is mean corpuscular hemoglobin (the substance in the red blood cells that transports oxygen), which is the average amount of hemoglobin inside a red blood cell. MCHC is the mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration, which is the average concentration of hemoglobin in the red blood cells, expressed as a percentage. Your veterinarian or the laboratory technician will also examine cells for maturity and for any blood-borne parasites.

WBC Data

An estimate will also be made of the total number of white blood cells (WBC) in the sample. White blood cells include eosinophils (cells that fight parasite infestations and are involved in allergies), and cells that fight infections or cellular invaders, including neutrophils, lymphocytes, basophils, and monocytes. The number of white blood cells such as lymphocytes may be increased in dogs with certain cancers, as well. Normally, white blood cell counts rise with bacterial infections, but if the infection is winning the battle, counts may be lower than expected. Viruses may also lower the white blood cell count.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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