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Sandra May 31, 2021

How To Read Your Dog’s Blood Work

Deciphering our dog’s blood work can be a challenging and difficult task. It’s always best to discuss any blood work results with your vet as they will be most knowledgeable in explaining the results to you and helping you understand them.

Lambo goes for annual check-ups but we also take him to the vet to get checked out when he isn’t feeling well or isn’t himself. Recently, we did some annual blood work to check on him and to make sure all levels are normal in his body! The good news is, everything is A-OK except his iron levels were a little low so he has to take some iron supplements.

I received the blood work results first in my email and had to wait 24 hours until the vet called to discuss and explain the results to us. In the meantime I was trying to figure out what each part meant and if he was in the norm. Normally I would have been completely lost but luckily I have done research in the past and have a handy chart that I was able to use to help me understand the blood work.

Below you will find this chart for your reference as well! The next time you get your dog’s blood work and are waiting to chat with the vet you can take a gander to understand the terms and numbers a little better before panic or worry set in.

Blood exams are used for a variety of different reasons and different blood tests are done as well! Lambo has had a few done and they all check for different things but this chart targets the common blood work.

Blood exams are used to check if your dog is in good health and indicate if your furry friend is free of disease or infection. They also indicate the number and type of blood cells present in your dog’s blood (red blood cells and white blood cells). Doing blood work can also help identify if your dog has a health issue such as anemia, leukemia, function/malfunction of any organs like their liver, thyroid, etc. If there are any abnormalities, blood work exams will show them and your vet can help you find the best solution. Otherwise, if there are no issues and your dog is in good health it’s nice to know and great for peace of mind.

Disclaimer: I am not a health care professional nor am I trained in veterinary science. Therefore this post should be used for informational purposes ONLY. Any questions and concerns should be addressed with your trusted veterinary doctor. This chart is based on online research and is not intended as a diagnosis for any dog.

Total Protein (TP) - UoM: g/dL - Range: 5.0 - 7.4
Increases indicate dehydration or blood cancer, bone marrow cancer; decreases indicate malnutrition, poor digestion, liver or kidney disease, bleeding, or burns.

Albumin (ALB) - UoM: g/L - Range: 2.7 - 4.4
Produced by the liver, reduced levels of this protein can point to chronic liver or kidney disease, or parasitic infections such as hookworm. High levels indicate dehydration and loss of protein.

Globulins (GLOB) - UoM: g/dL - Range: 1.6 - 3.6
Decreased levels indicate problems with antibodies, immunodeficiency viruses or risk of infectious disease. Increased levels may indicate stress, dehydration or blood cancer, allergies, liver disease, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes.

Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) - UoM: u/L - Range: 12 - 118
An enzyme that becomes elevated with liver disease.

Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP) - UoM: u/L - Range: 5 - 131
An enzyme produced by the biliary tract (liver). High levels indicate bone disease, liver disease or bile flow blockage.

Total Billirubin (TBIL) - UoM: mg/dL - Range: 0.1 – 0.3
A component of bile, bilirubin is secreted by the liver into the intestinal tract. *High levels can lead to jaundice and indicate destruction in the liver and bile duct.

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) - UoM: mg/dL - Range: 6 - 25
BUN is produced by the liver and excreted by the kidneys. Decreased levels are seen with low protein diets, liver insufficiency, and the use of anabolic steroid drug. Increased levels indicate any condition that reduces the kidney's ability to filter body fluids in the body or interferes with protein breakdown.

Creatinine (CREA) - UoM: mg/dL - Range: 0.5 – 1.6
Creatinine is a by-product of muscle metabolism and is excreted by the kidneys. Elevated levels can indicate kidney disease or urinary obstruction, muscle disease, arthritis, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes. An increased BUN and normal creatinine suggest an early or mild problem. Increased creatinine and increased BUN with elevated phosphorus indicate long-standing kidney disease.

Phosphorus (PHOS) - UoM: mg/dL - Range: 2.5 - 6.0
Affected by diet, parathormone, and kidney. Decreased levels show overactive parathyroid gland and malignancies, malnutrition, and malabsorption. Increases with underactive parathyroid gland and kidney failure.

Glucose (GLU) - UoM: mg/dL - Range: 70 - 138
High levels can help diagnose diabetes and can indicate stress, excess of the hormone progesterone, an overactive adrenal gland. Low levels can indicate liver disease, tumors, or abnormal growth on the pancreas, an underactive adrenal gland.

Calcium (CA) - UoM: mg/dL - Range: 8.9 - 11.4
Blood calcium levels are influenced by diet, hormone levels, and blood protein levels. *Decreased levels indicate acute damage to the pancreas or under-active parathyroid. Muscle twitches may occur at decreased levels. Increased levels can be an indicator of certain types of tumors, parathyroid, or kidney disease.

Sodium - UoM: mEq/L or mmol/L - Range: 139 – 154
Abnormal levels can be life-threatening. Electrolyte tests are important in evaluating vomiting, diarrhea, and cardiac symptoms.

Potassium - UoM: mEq/L or mmol/L - Range: 3.6 – 5.5
Abnormal levels can be life-threatening. Electrolyte tests are important in evaluating vomiting, diarrhea, and cardiac symptoms.

Chloride - UoM: mEq/L or mmol/L - Range: 102 – 120
Abnormal levels can be life-threatening. Electrolyte tests are important in evaluating vomiting, diarrhea, and cardiac symptoms.

Cholesterol (CHOL) - UoM: mg/dL - Range: 92 - 324
Decreased levels are found in an overactive thyroid gland, intestinal malabsorption. Elevated levels of cholesterol are seen in a variety of disorders including hypothyroidism and diseases of the liver, kidneys, cardiovascular, diabetes, and stress.

Amylase (AMYL) - UoM: u/L - Range: 290 - 1125
The pancreas produces and secrets amylase to aid in digestion. Elevated blood levels can indicate pancreatic and/or kidney disease.

White Blood Count (WBC) - UoM: Cells x 103/cubic mm of blood = /µL - Range: 4.0 - 15.5
These cells help fight infection and respond when an area of the body becomes inflamed. Elevated white blood cell counts indicate infection, inflammation, and some forms of cancer or leukemia. Low white blood cells counts can indicate viral infections, bone marrow abnormalities, or overwhelming infections and sepsis (blood poisoning). In this situation, the white blood cells are concentrated in the area of infection and are not circulating in the blood, resulting in a low count.

Red Blood Count (RBC) - UoM: In million cells/mcL Or cmm - Range: 4.8 - 9.3
These cells are responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body. Oxygen is used as fuel for the body and is very important. High red blood cell numbers usually indicate dehydration but can also indicate uncommon diseases that cause excess production of red blood cells from the bone marrow. Low red blood cell counts are referred to as anemia and can be a result of blood loss, active bleeding, bone marrow disease or excessive red blood cell breakdown that is seen in some immune diseases and toxin ingestion.

Hemoglobin (HGB) - UoM: g/dL - Range: 12.1 - 20.3
This molecule is responsible for binding and releasing oxygen onto the red blood cells. Without hemoglobin, oxygen cannot be transported. High levels of hemoglobin usually indicate high red blood cell counts and dehydration. Low levels indicate anemia, bleeding or iron deficiency.

Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV) - UoM: femto-liters (fL or µm3) - Range: 58 - 79
This is the average size of the red blood cells. A high MCV usually indicted certain vitamin deficiencies. A low MCV indicated iron deficiency.

Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin (MCH) - UoM: pg - Range: 19 - 28
This is the average weight of hemoglobin in each red blood cell and is different than hemoglobin circulating in the blood. A high MCH indicates poorly oxygenated blood. A low MCH indicates iron deficiency.

Mean Corpuscular Hgb Concentration (MCHC) - UoM: g/dl - Range: 30 - 38
This is the average percentage of hemoglobin in each red blood cell. A high MCHC indicates that there is too much hemoglobin in the red blood cell, indicating a high iron level since an important component of hemoglobin is iron. Iron excess is just as damaging to the body as iron deficiency. A low MCHC indicates anemia.

Platelet Count (PLT) - UoM: Total#x109/L or x103/µL - Range: 170 - 400
The platelets are responsible for sealing any leaks in the blood vessels. When platelet counts are low, spontaneous bleeding can occur. High platelet counts usually indicate a disorder of the bone marrow or an overwhelming response to an immune blood disease. Low platelet counts indicate bleeding or excessive destruction of platelets caused by parasites or immune diseases.

Segmental Neutrophils (SEGS) - UoM: Total#x109/L or x103/µL - Range: 2060 - 10600
These are the primary white blood cells responsible for fighting infections. High levels of neutrophils indicate infection. Low levels can indicate sepsis. The neutrophils are concentrated in the area of infection or are rapidly being used, leaving less circulating in the blood.

Lymphocytes (LYMPHS) - UoM: Total#x109/L or x103/µL - Range: 690 - 4500
Cancers such as lymphosarcoma. Low levels can indicate viral infections affecting the bone marrow or sepsis.These white blood cells are also responsible for fighting infection and also develop antibodies to protect the body against future attacks. High levels of lymphocytes can indicate infection, viral disease, or other.

Monocytes (MONO) - UoM: Total#x109/L or x103/µL - Range: 0 - 840
This white blood cell helps the neutrophils fight infections. High monocyte counts indicate infection. It is unlikely that there will be no monocytes and a differential with zero monocytes does not indicate any specific ailment.

Eosinophils (EOS) - UoM: Total#x109/L or x103/µL - Range: 0 - 1200
Allergy or parasite causing illness. Low levels are not possible since zero eosinophils are possible in normal blood samples.This white blood cell is primarily involved in fighting allergies or parasites.

Basophils (BASO) - UoM: Total# - Range: 0 - 150
Heartworm. High levels indicate possible parasitism. Low levels are not possible since zero basophils are possible in normal blood samples.This white blood cell is not very common but can be seen in certain parasitic infections.

Anytime I am not sure about results or have questions we call our vet for a phone discussion or schedule an appointment. Wishing you and your fur friends lots of health, love & light!