Understanding Your Pet’s Diagnostic Testing

Blood Chemistries
These common blood tests allow veterinarians to assess your pet’s overall health. Blood tests are often recommended in healthy pets, in pets about to undergo anesthesia and in sick pets. Interpretation of multiple tests in conjunction with one another (profiling) allows quick and noninvasive assessment of the major organ systems of the body.

Understanding your pet’s test results Blood testing can frequently detect illness in your pet before we see any outward signs of disease. Testing gives us immediate insights that we might not otherwise discover. And, treating your pet early can lead to a better outcome and possibly lower treatment costs.


  • BUN (blood urea nitrogen)— increases may be seen with decreased kidney function,
    dehydration, heart disease, shock or urinary obstruction as well as following a high protein diet;
    decreases may be seen with overhydration
  • CREA (creatinine)—increases may be seen with decreased kidney function and other conditions
    as noted with BUN, but is not affected by a recent high protein diet; decreases may be seen with
  • PHOS (phosphorus)—elevations are seen with decreased kidney loss through conditions like
    kidney disease, increased intake through the gastrointestinal tract and increased release from
    injured tissues; increases in growing puppies and kittens can be normal; decreases may be seen
    with increased loss or decreased intake
  • Ca+ (calcium)—increases may be seen as a result of a variety of diseases including kidney
    disease, certain cancer types, certain toxicities and parathyroid disease; decreases may be seen with certain parathyroid diseases and with low albumin


  • ALT (alanine aminotransferase)—increases are a sensitive indicator of liver cell damage
  • ALKP (alkaline phosphatase)—increases may indicate a liver abnormality (cholestasis),
    Cushing’s disease, active bone growth in young pets, active bone remodeling after bone injury;
    may be induced by multiple drugs and nonspecific conditions
  • GGT (gamma glutamyl transferase)—increases may indicate a certain type of liver abnormality
  • ALB (albumin)—increases may indicate dehydration; decreases may be seen with decreased
    liver function, blood loss, gastrointestinal disease or kidney disease
  • TBIL (total bilirubin)— increases may be seen with liver disease (cholestasis and insufficiency)
    and certain types of anemia
  • Bile acids—increases in this blood component may be an indication of decreased liver function,
    abnormalities in blood flow to the liver or possible bile duct obstruction


  • AMYL (amylase)—increases may be seen with pancreatitis, kidney disease, gastrointestinal
    disease or certain drug treatments; degree of change and other laboratory data may help identify
    pancreatitis specifically
  • LIPA (lipase)—increases may be seen with pancreatitis, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disease
    and certain drug treatments; degree of change and other laboratory data may help identify pancreatitis specifically

Protein Profile

  • TP (total protein)— increases may indicate dehydration or an inflammatory condition; decreases
    may be seen in decreased liver function, blood loss, gastrointestinal loss and kidney loss
  • ALB (albumin)— increases may indicate dehydration; decreases may be seen with decreased
    liver function, blood loss, gastrointestinal disease and kidney disease
  • GLOB(globulin)—increases may be seen with inflammation and potential chronic infection;
    decreases may be seen with blood loss, gastrointestinal loss and immune deficiencies


  • Na+ (sodium)—increases may indicate dehydration; decreases may be seen with loss during
    diarrhea and vomiting or with Addison’s and kidney disease
  • K+ (potassium)—increases may indicate kidney disease due to decreased excretion, with
    Addison’s disease, dehydration and kidney obstruction; decreases may be seen with loss during diarrhea or vomiting
  • Cl(chloride)—increases may indicate dehydration; decreases may be seen with loss during
    diarrhea or vomiting

Miscellaneous Chemistries

  • GLU (glucose)—increases may indicate diabetes mellitus; decreases may be due to liver
    disease, pancreatic disease and other conditions and could lead to collapse, seizure or coma
  • AST (aspartate aminotransferase)— increases are associated with liver or muscle damage
  • CK (creatine kinase)—increases are associated with muscle damage
  • CHOL (cholesterol)— increases may be seen with a variety of metabolic disturbances including
    diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, pancreatitis and some types of kidney
    disease; decreases may be seen with liver insufficiency and intestinal disease
  • TRIG (triglycerides)— increases may be seen in a variety of conditions including non-fasted
    samples, in miniature schnauzers, and in patient’s with pancreatitis, diabetes, Cushing’s disease
    or hypothyroidism
  • Cortisol—increases may be seen with Cushing’s disease (measured in different protocols
    including ACTH stimulation and Dexamethasone suppression tests); decreases may be seen with Addison’s disease
  • T4 (thyroxine)—increases may indicate hyperthyroidism (primarily cats); decreases may indicate hypothyroidism (primarily dogs)
  • LACTATE—increases indicate either local or general decreased blood perfusion and can
    potentially serve as a prognostic indicator for the critical patient

Complete Blood Count (CBC)This is a common test performed on pets to provide objective information about the general health
status of an animal. The objective data obtained from a CBC can be helpful in monitoring ill patients
undergoing therapy; therefore, serial CBC requests are common.

Red Blood Cell (RBC) Parameters

  • RBC (red blood cell count), HCT (hematocrit) and HGB (hemoglobin)—increases in these
    parameters may support dehydration or a disease of increased production of RBCs; decreases
    indicate anemia and decreased oxygen-carrying capability of the blood
  • MCV (mean cell volume)—increases indicate the presence of larger than normal cells, which
    may be related to young cells during response to an anemia; decreases indicate the presence of
    smaller than normal cells, which may be associated with chronic blood loss/iron deficiency
  • MCH (mean cell hemoglobin) and MCHC (mean cell hemoglobin concentration)—increases
    suggest the presence of hemolysis or an interference in hemoglobin measurement; decreases
    suggest decreased hemoglobin concentration, which can be seen during response to anemia
    and chronic blood loss/iron deficiency
  • RDW (red cell distribution width)—increases in this objective measure of variability of RBC size
    indicates increased variability in size that can aid the veterinarian in identifying the cause of an RBC problem
  • RETIC (reticulocytes)—increases indicate growing numbers of immature RBCs, indicating a
    response to a peripheral demand for RBCs; decreases indicate few or no immature RBCs,
    indicating the body is unable to respond to a demand for RBCs (nonregenerative anemia)

White Blood Cell (WBC) Parameters

  • WBC (white blood cells)—increases may be due to inflammation, stress, excitement and
    leukemia; decreases may be due to overwhelming inflammation and bone marrow failure
  • Leukocyte Differential—Various patterns of change in numbers of NEU (neutrophils), LYM
    (lymphocytes), MONO (monocytes), EOS (eosinophils), and BASO (basophils) may be seen with
    different types of inflammation, stress, excitement and leukemia
  • NEU—inflammatory cell associated with infectious and noninfectious disease processes
  • LYM—immune cell highly responsive to “stress” and potentially increased during chronic
  • MONO—inflammatory cell associated with repair of tissue injury
  • EOS—inflammatory cell associated with parasitic disease, hypersensitivity and allergy
  • BASO—inflammatory cell associated with parasitic disease, hypersensitivity and allergy

Platelet (PLT) Parameters

  • PLT (platelet) and PCT (platelet crit)—increases in these parameters of overall platelet mass
    are potentially associated with hypercoagulable state; decreases may be seen with decreased
    production (bone marrow failure), increased consumption (coagulation, inflammation, etc.) and
    destruction in the blood (infectious, immune-mediated, etc.)
  • MPV (mean platelet volume)—increases indicate presence of larger than normal platelets
    commonly associated with response to need for platelets (not significant in the cat)
  • PDW (platelet distribution width)—increases in this objective measure of variability of platelet
    size indicates increased variability in size which may be an indicator of response to a need
    for platelets (not significant in the cat); decreases may be seen with immune-mediated thrombocytopenia


A urinalysis is performed on a urine sample and provides insight into kidney functions as well as the hydration status of the animal. This valuable test may also be helpful in diagnosing and monitoring various diseases and metabolic disturbances throughout the body.

  • Specific Gravity—determined by the kidney’s ability to concentrate urine in response to the hydration status
    pH—reflect the acid-base status if the animal is well-hydrated
  • PRO (protein)—small amounts of protein may be normally found in urine, but larger amounts
    may indicate kidney disease
  • GLU (glucose)—high levels are usually associated with an elevated blood glucose concentration
  • KET (ketones)—elevated levels may indicate an increase in breakdown of lipids within the body
  • UBG (urobilinogen)—abnormally high levels may indicate liver or hemolytic disease
  • BIL (bilirubin)—abnormally high levels may indicate liver or hemolytic disease; in dogs (especially
    male dogs) bilirubinuria is common even under normal conditions; bilirubinuria in cats is significant
  • RBCs and Hemoglobin—the test may be positive due to hematuria, hemoglobinuria or
    myoglobinuria; blood in the urine is often a sign of inflammation, infection and/or trauma
  • WBCs—excessive numbers of WBC indicate inflammation somewhere in the urinary tract
  • UPC—(urine protein:creatinine ratio)—an important screening test for early kidney disease and
    to help monitor treatment of renal disease; increases may indicate significant protein loss through the kidney

Other Possible Tests

  • Canine/Feline Giardia—test for a protozoan parasite that may inhabit the small intestine of
    dogs, cats, humans and most domesticated animals often causing diarrhea
    Canine/Feline Heartworm—test for deadly parasites that can live in the heart, major blood
    vessels and the lungs
  • Canine Tick-Borne Diseases—tests for commonly seen and serious diseases transmitted by
    ticks including Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis
  • Canine Parvovirus—test for one of the most common and severe gastrointestinal diseases in
    young dogs
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia Viruses (FeLV)— tests for two of
    the major causes of illness and death in cats
    One IDEXX Drive, Westbrook, Maine 04092 USA • idexx.com
    © 2007 IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. All rights reserved. • 09-64954-01 (3)

Ward Animal Hospital’s position on online pharmacies

Because of the advertisements for mail order medication pharmacies such as PetMeds. We want to clarify our position on these products.
We have an online pharmacy that has competitive pricing with other online pharmacies.
A very important concern is the quality of the product.
All of our products are shipped directly from the manufacturer and stored appropriately.

The manufacturers do not sell products directly to online pharmacies like PetMeds. Because of this, the products are obtained through unregulated means. Some illegal foreign versions have turned up in the United States. Counterfeit and expired products are being repackaged and sold with fake lot numbers.

Most importantly, the manufacturers guarantee their products only if purchased from a licensed Veterinarian. Since no prevention provides 100% protection, this is very important. The manufacturer will pay for heartworm treatment if the pet has ben getting prevention at the recommended intervals. They will not pay for treatment of the product is not purchased from a  licensed Veterinarian.


A breakdown of the benefits of ordering with an online pharmacy associated with a veterinarian.

  • Products are sent directly from the manufacturer, no 3rd party involvement
  • Unlike with other online pharmacies, product lot numbers are tracked automatically and quality is guaranteed by the manufacturer
  • Purchases are linked to your pets record in our office
  • Manufacturer rebates are applied automatically and deducted from the price
  • Additional discounts (coupons) will be available through the clinic and promotional e-mails
  • Free shipping (3-5 business days) is applied on all products without minimum purchase, flat rate second and next day shipping is available
  • Additional discounts are applied for autoship setup (customizable free delivery schedule)
  • Veterinary recommendations can be emailed to you for easy ordering and re-ordering
  • A wide variety of preventative, therapeutic products and food are available for cats, dogs and horses


Our office will be happy to assist with ordering, or any questions or concerns you might have.



Benefits of Spaying and Neutering

One of the best reasons to spay or neuter your pet is to avoid adding to the problem of pet overpopulation. Every day in the United States, thousands more puppies and kittens are born than are human babies. The result is that there are not enough homes for all these pets.

What are the Benefits of spaying/ neutering my pet?

Spaying and neutering also have immediate benefits for you and your pet:

  • Your pet will be much less likely to get a number of serious health problems that can be life-threatening and expensive to treat, such as uterine, mammary (breast) or testicular cancer.
  • Spayed and neutered pets are less likely to try to escape and roam. Roaming pets are far more likely to get into fights with other animals or to experience traumatic injuries, such as being hit by a car.
  • Neutering male cats makes them less likely to mark their territory (your home) by spraying urine.
  • Spaying female pets prevent them from coming into heat, that is, actively seeking a mate. Females in heat may vocalize more and may leave bloodstains on carpets or furniture. A female dog or cat in heat may also attract unwanted male canine or feline visitors to your property.
  • Spayed or neutered pets are generally more even-tempered and less likely to show aggression with other animals or people.

Common Concerns

Will my pet gain weight?
You can help keep your pet from gaining unnecessary weight by not overfeeding or overindulging him with treats and by making sure she gets plenty of exercise. Regular walks (for dogs) or playtimes (for cats) can help keep your friend fit.

Isn’t it expensive?
Spaying or neutering is a one-time investment in the health of your pet. This procedure is relatively inexpensive in light of the veterinary training and medications required for it. Compare the expense of this procedure with the expense of caring for a pregnant and nursing mother, raising a litter of puppies or kittens (including the necessary vaccinations and deworming medications), and feeding puppies or kittens until they are old enough to be placed in homes. Also, consider that spayed and neutered pets are less likely to roam, suffer accidents and develop certain serious diseases.

Shouldn’t my female pet have at least one litter?
Spaying female dogs and cats before they go into heat even once further reduces the chance of certain medical conditions that affect the reproductive organs. Preventing pregnancy also eliminates the possibility of your pet having complications from pregnancy and delivery. It is also very time-consuming and expensive to raise healthy offspring, and it can be very difficult to find homes for the new arrivals. Your female dog or cat will not “miss” being a mother, and if fewer puppies and kittens are born, more animals in shelters will find homes and avoid euthanasia.