Just like humans, dogs can sometimes benefit from routine blood work monitoring. Veterinarians often use blood work to help check for issues, as often health problems can arise before symptoms are displayed. Some dogs try to hide their ailments so they don’t worry their owners. By using bloodwork to identify health concerns at the earliest possible moment, veterinarians can significantly increase the chances of a successful recovery.
Blood work, and specifically blood chemistry panels, can be effectively used by veterinarians to detect the functionality and relative health of the pet’s liver, kidneys, and pancreas. By monitoring this organ function, it can help them to identify and treat organ diseases early on. Organ problems are dangerous and can often be fatal if not treated promptly. The sooner the issue receives treatment, the more likely the pet will recover successfully.
However, blood work can do more than just diagnose organ issues. It can also assess the pet's overall health status, which can be especially useful before surgical procedures, indicating its compatibility with surgery.
After the veterinary appointment, pets may be prescribed medications or antibiotics. It can be challenging to predict how a dog will react to a particular drug, especially if they’ve never been on it before. By taking your dog in for blood work, the veterinarian can assess how well it reacts to the prescription.
The vet can include several different tests in a blood work panel. Each of them has its own benefits and indications.
Typically costing between $100 and $300, a complete blood count (CBC) test measures the animal’s red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. These factors can indicate the dog’s hydration status, potential infections or anemia, immune system response, and blood clotting abilities.
A CBC is a diagnostic tool that is often used when a dog is presenting symptoms such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, pale gums, or loss of appetite, as these can all be symptoms of trouble with the dog’s immune system.
A blood chemistry panel is a veterinary tool to monitor organ function, electrolyte status, and more. Getting one typically costs somewhere between $100 and $200. Although this test may be expensive, blood chemistry panels can provide valuable insights into the dog’s liver enzymes, hormone levels, blood sugar, and more. This helpful information can help alert the vet if something is wrong so that the issues can be treated promptly to maximize the chance of a successful recovery.
The cost of thyroid testing for dogs is less expensive than some of the other blood tests, ranging from $50 to $150. Thyroid testing can help diagnose hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism in dogs, which are common types of hormone imbalances. These ailments are caused by inflammation or shrinkage of the thyroid gland.
Specialized blood tests for dogs are most often used to test for known genetic predispositions, such as heartworm tests, tick-borne disease tests, and more. Specialized blood tests for dogs cost, on average, from $100 to $200 per visit.
The type and extent of the blood test play a pivotal role in determining the overall cost. Basic blood tests, such as a CBC or basic chemistry panel, are generally more affordable, often ranging from $50 to $150. However, more comprehensive tests, like thyroid panels, coagulation profiles, or specialized diagnostic panels, can be considerably more expensive, ranging from $200 to $500 or more. The complexity of the test, the number of parameters measured, and the laboratory technology utilized all contribute to the cost.
Geographic location is another significant factor affecting the cost of blood work for dogs. Veterinary care costs can vary widely from one region to another. In metropolitan areas or regions with a higher cost of living, you can generally expect to pay more for veterinary services, including blood work. In contrast, in rural or less expensive areas, the cost may be more affordable. Additionally, factors like supply and demand for veterinary services in a given location can influence the pricing.
The type of veterinary clinic or hospital you choose can also impact the cost of blood work. General practices and standalone clinics often offer more competitive pricing for routine blood tests. At the same time, specialized referral hospitals may charge higher fees due to their advanced equipment, expertise, and access to specialized testing services. Emergency or 24-hour facilities may also have higher fees, particularly if you require blood work outside regular business hours.
The blood work cost for dogs may increase significantly if additional procedures are necessary. This includes fees for sample collection, handling, and laboratory processing. In some cases, diagnostic imaging, such as radiography or ultrasound, may be required to complement the blood work, further adding to the cost. Additionally, if your dog needs sedation or anesthesia for blood collection, this will incur additional charges.
Although the price of blood work will vary based on several factors, here are the typical price ranges for standard blood tests:
CBC: $100 to $300
Blood Chemistry Panel: $100 to $200
**Thyroid Testing: **$50 to $150
Specialty Testing: $100 to $200 (per visit)
Additional charges may be included depending on the exact procedures the veterinarian performs and the veterinary clinic’s policies.
Before your dog undergoes a blood test, there may be specific preparation steps, especially if the test requires fasting. Your veterinarian will provide guidelines on whether your dog should be fed or fasted before the test, depending on the type of blood work performed. It’s essential to follow these instructions carefully to ensure accurate results. Additionally, inform your veterinarian of any medications or supplements your dog is taking, as they may need to be temporarily discontinued to prevent interference with the results.
The blood collection process typically involves the following steps:
The veterinary team will verify the dog’s identity and ensure they have the correct patient.
Depending on the dog’s temperament and the type of test, they may need to be gently restrained to keep them still during the procedure. This can involve using a leash, a gentle hold, or sedation if necessary.
The most common site for blood collection in dogs is the jugular vein in the neck, though other veins, like the cephalic vein in the front leg, may also be used. The area is usually shaved and cleaned to minimize the risk of contamination.
A sterile needle is carefully inserted into the selected vein to draw the blood sample.
The blood is collected into a specialized vial or syringe.
After the blood is collected, the site is often bandaged to prevent bleeding and infection.
The duration for receiving the results of the blood test can vary. In many cases, routing blood work can provide results within a few hours to a day, while more complex tests or those sent to external laboratories may take longer, usually a few days. Once the results are available, your veterinarian will interpret them and discuss the findings with you. They will explain what the values mean for your dog’s health and whether any action or further testing is necessary based on the results.
The frequency of blood work for your dog depends on their age, health status, and specific medical conditions. Here are some general guidelines:
The vet may order blood work during a puppy wellness visit to establish baseline values.
Routine blood work is often performed annually during regular checkups to monitor overall health, detect early signs of illness, and track changes in blood values over time.
Older dogs may benefit from more frequent blood work, such as every six months, to monitor age-related issues and detect health changes.
Dogs with Chronic Illnesses
If your dog has a chronic illness, the necessity of blood work may be more frequent, as directed by your veterinarian.
Consider getting pet insurance for your dog. While it may not cover the total cost of routine blood work, pet insurance can be a lifesaver in case of unexpected health issues, as it can significantly reduce the financial burden of diagnostic tests, treatments, and medications. Review different pet insurance plans to find one that suits your budget and offers coverage for blood work and other essential veterinary services.
Many veterinary clinics offer wellness plans that include periodic blood tests as part of a package. These plans often spread the cost of routine care and diagnostics over the course of a year, making it more manageable. By enrolling in a wellness plan, you can ensure that your dog receives regular check-ups, vaccinations, and essential blood work while budgeting for these expenses monthly.
When discussing blood work with your veterinarian, inquire about bundled tests or discounts. Sometimes, specific blood tests can be performed together, reducing the overall cost compared to having them done separately. Additionally, some clinics offer discounts for clients who schedule multiple services or multiple pets at the same time. By asking about available discounts or package deals, you can lower your expenses.
Regular blood work and veterinary check-ups are crucial for preventing potential health issues for your dog. By identifying health concerns early on, you can often address them with less invasive and less costly treatments. In contrast, if health problems are left undetected and untreated, they may worsen over time, requiring more extensive and expensive interventions. Investing in preventive care can save you money in the long run by avoiding costly emergency visits and advanced treatments.
Many veterinarians, including the ones at White Marsh Animal Hospital, believe that bloodwork is “an invaluable diagnostic and preventive tool that a veterinarian uses to address the overall health of an animal, whether they are suffering from illnesses, detecting early signs of illnesses and conditions, or tracking the course of a disease.”
Although the frequency with which a dog should get routine blood work will vary from dog to dog, and it’s always best to follow the veterinarian’s recommendations, most dogs will typically be encouraged to go in annually after their initial baseline testing as a puppy.
Blood work is an essential tool used by veterinarians that can help them recognize and treat your pet’s medical condition at the earliest possible stages. This way, they can maximize the chances of a successful treatment and recovery, giving them the best shot at a happy and healthy life.