Blood Work - what does it all mean?
Complete blood count (CBC)
This measures the number of cells of different types circulating in the
bloodstream. There are three types of blood cells; red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC), and platelets.
Red cells pick up oxygen brought into the body by the lungs, and bring oxygen to the cells. Red blood cells live in the blood stream for about 100 days. A decreased amount of red blood cell numbers is called anemia - causes include if they are not produced in adequate numbers by the bone marrow, if their life span is shortened (a condition called hemolysis), or if they are lost due to bleeding.
Most of the white blood cells are neutrophils, which help fight infections. Neutrophils can be lowered in severe infections where the body has sent many to fight an infection, but not yet produced enough. They are also lowered in some viruses affecting the bone marrow (i.e. parvovirus), and chemotherapy. In most cases Neutrophils are increased in pets with inflammation or infection. They are also elevated in pets on corticosteroids.
Lymphocytes also help fight infection and produce antibodies against infectious agents (viruses, bacteria, etc.). Lymphocytes are lowered in stress, and in dogs that have cushings disease with elevated levels of blood cortisol.
Platelets come from the bone marrow - their primary responsibility is in
making blood clot. They have a short lifespan only living 2 weeks. Low platelet counts occur if the bone marrow is damaged and doesn't produce them, or if the platelets are destroyed at a faster rate than normal. 2 causes of platelet destruction are immune-mediated destruction (ITP or IMT) and DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation). Animals with a low platelet count bruise easily and may have blood in their urine or stool.
Here are the abbreviations that you will find on your
pet's blood work:
HCT (hematocrit) measures the percentage of red blood cells to detect anemia and dehydration.
Hb and MCHC (hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration) are the oxygen-carrying pigments of red blood cells.
WBC (white blood cell count) measures the body's immune cells. Increases or decreases indicate certain diseases or infections.
GRANS and L/M (granulocytes and lymphocytes/monocytes) are specific types of white blood cells.
EOS (eosinophils) are a specific type of white blood cells that
may indicate allergic or parasitic conditions.
PLT (platelet count) measures cells that help the blood clot
RETICS (reticulocytes) are immature red blood cells. High levels indicate regenerative anemia.
FIBR (fibrinogen) Is an important clotting factor. High levels may indicate a dog is 30 to 40 days pregnant.
These common blood serum tests evaluate organ function, electrolyte status, hormone levels.
ALB (albumin) Is a serum protein that helps evaluate hydration, hemorrhage, and intestinal, liver, and kidney disease.
ALKP (alkaline phosphatase) elevations may indicate liver damage, Cushing's disease, and active bone growth in young pets. If elevated in cats, this is important.
ALT (alanine aminotransferase) is a sensitive indicator of active liver
damage but doesn't indicate the cause.
AMYL (amylase) elevations - an pancreatic enzyme, show pancreatitis or kidney disease.
AST (aspartate aminotransferase) increases may indicate liver, heart, or skeletal muscle damage.
BUN (blood urea nitrogen) indicates kidney function. An increased blood level is called azotemia and can be caused by kidney, liver, and heart disease, urethral obstruction, shock, and dehydration.
Ca (calcium) deviations can indicate a variety of diseases. Tumors,
hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease, and low albumin are just a few of the
conditions that alter serum calcium.
CHOL (cholesterol) is used to supplement diagnosis of hypothyroidism, liver disease, Cushing's disease, and diabetes mellitus.
Cl (chloride) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting and Addison's disease.
CREA (creatinine) reveals kidney function. This test helps distinguish
between kidney and non-kidney causes of elevated BUN.
GGT (gamma glutamyl transferase) is an enzyme that indicates liver disease or corticosteroid excess.
GLOB (globulin) is a blood protein that often increases with chronic
inflammation and certain disease states.
GLU (glucose) Is a blood sugar. Elevated levels may indicate diabetes
mellitus. Low levels can cause collapse, seizures, or coma.
K (potassium) electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea, or
urination. Increased levels may indicate kidney failure, Addison's disease,
dehydration, and urethral obstruction. Cardiac arrest from high levels.
LIP (lipase) is an enzyme that may indicate pancreatitis.
Na (sodium) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea, and kidney and
Addison's disease. This test helps indicate hydration status.
PHOS (phosphorus) elevations are often associated with kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and bleeding disorders.
TBIL (total bilirubin) elevations may indicate liver or hemolytic disease. This helps identify bile duct problems and types of anemia.
TP (total protein) indicates hydration status and provides additional
information about the liver, kidneys, and infectious diseases.
T4 (thyroxine) is a thyroid hormone. Decreased levels often signal
hypothyroidism in dogs, high levels Indicate hyperthyroidism in cats.
Bilirubin is produced by the liver from old red blood cells. Bilirubin is
increased in liver disease, or when the red blood cells at a faster than normal rate (hemolysis).
Bile acids are produced by the liver and are involved in fat breakdown. A
bile acid test is used to evaluate the function of the liver.