Reading Laboratory Reports from Veterinary Tests

Reading laboratory reports and interpreting them is typically done by a certified vet. The results may vary according to the pet’s breed and age; however, there are a few values that are considered normal and the vet will be able to tell you whether your dog is healthy or has a medical problem. There are various tests that are performed including a complete blood count, a serum chemistry profile and other tests to asses the function of internal organs.

Complete Blood Count

The complete blood count or CBC is performed to find the values of the cells in the pet’s body. There will be various values obtained:

  • The red blood cell (RBC) count; if the cell count is lower, this will indicate anemia and an iron deficiency or it may point to loss of blood, parasites, bone marrow deficiencies or the lack of sufficient vitamin B in the body
  • The white blood cells (WBC) are indicative of the body’s health; if these are in lower amounts, this can point to a viral infection or poisoning; an increased amount of WBC points to a bacterial infection or a blood disorder
  • Hematocrit (HCT) also known as PCV or packed cell volume will also indicate the amount of red blood cells; if the values are lower, this will indicate poor nutrition and all the conditions mentioned above in the case of a low RBC
  • Hb or hemoglobin will indicate the oxygen in the blood; when the value is lower, the pet is affected by anemia and lack of iron; if the value is higher than normal, this may mean that the pet has an increased RBC
  • Platelets (PLT) are essential in the process of blood coagulation; if the tests show low levels of PLT, this can point to a bone marrow problem or autoimmune diseases; high levels of PLT
  • Lymphocytes (LM) may be in excess when the pet is recovering from an infection or is under stress

Calcium and Phosphorus

The calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood should be measured.

A low level of calcium (CA) can point to a pancreas problem or low parathyroid activity. High levels may indicate tumors or kidney issues.

Phosphorus (PHOS) in excess can indicate a lack of parathyroid gland activity and kidney failure; when in deficit, the pet may have a malignant tumor or suffer from malnutrition or malabsorption.

Tests Assessing the Activity of Organs

The liver tests include the:

  • Alanine aminotranferase (ALT), which is in excess when the pet is affected by liver disease
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALKP) in excess indicates liver problems and blockage of the bile flow
  • Bilirubin in excess will also indicate liver disease

High levels of cholesterol can point to hyperthyroidism, as well as liver and kidney problems.

Kidney problems may also be detected through:

  • Total protein (TP); when in excess it may also point to cancer and liver disease
  • Albumin (ALB), in deficit can also indicate liver issues
  • Creatinine (CREA)

Urine Test

Urinalysis or the urine test will indicate the presence of infections. The test will assess the color, the transparency, the gravity and the PH levels. The normal PH of the pet urine is between 6.2 and 6.5.