ACT = activated clotting time

ACTH = adrenocortiotrophin hormone

ALB = Albumin

ALP = Alkaline phosphatase

AMY = Amylase

APTT = activated partial thromboplastin time

BUN = Blood Urea Nitrogen

CA = Calcium

CDV = canine distemper virus

CHF = congestive heart failure

CHOL = Cholesterol

Cl = Chloride

CNS = central nervous system

CPK = Creatine phosphokinase

CPV-2 = canine parvovirus type 2

CREAT = Creatinine

CSF = cerebrospinal fluid

DIC = disseminated intravascular coagulation

FDP = fibrin degradation products

FPV = feline panleukopenia virus

GGT = Gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase

GI = gastrointestinal

GLOB = Globulin

GLU = Glucose

IMHA = immune mediated hemolytic anemia

K = Potassium

LDH = Lactate dehydrogenase

LIP = Lipase

MLV = modified live virus

MS = multiple sclerosis

MV = measles virus

Na = Sodium

PHOS = Phosphorus

PI = postinfection

PT = prothrombin time

PTE = pulmonary thromboembolism

RV = rabies virus

RBC = red blood cells

SGPT = Serum glutamate pyruvate transaminase

SLE = systemic lupus erythematosus

TBILI = Total Bilirubin

T4 = Thyroxine

TP = Total Protein

T3 = Triiodothyronine


Normal Hematology Values for Dogs

Hematocrit (PCV) % 40-59

Hemoglobin /dl 14-20

Red Blood Cell Count x 106/µl 5.6-8.7

White Blood Cell Count/µl 6,000-17,000

Neutrophils/µl 3,000-12,000

Lymphocytes/µl 530-4, 8001

Monocytes/µl 100-1800

Eosinophils/µl 0-1,900

Basophils/µl <100

Platelets/µl 145-440

Whenever you find yourself in the veterinarian’s office with a sick dog, be proactive and ask the doctor if doing a blood chemistry evaluation would be helpful. You would want it done for yourself, wouldn’t you? And expect that a blood chemistry profile would be required prior to any elective anesthesia or surgery. You would be surprised how many elective procedures are put off until the reason for a previously unnoticed medical problem is evaluated. Many animal hospitals are providing annual Older Pet Evaluations where results of blood and urine testing are vital in making a proper health evaluation of the patient; so if your dog is eight years of age or older an annual physical exam with laboratory tests can be a very rewarding practice.

Blood work should be done on senior friends at least every six months Consult your vet for more details!

A Complete Blood Count indicates the number and type of cells in the dog's blood. This standard test can identify anemia and leukemia, as well as the presence of many infections. A Serum Chemistry Profile includes a variety of tests that examine the functioning of organs, such as the liver and thyroid. If these tests indicate any abnormality.

Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) - An enzyme that becomes elevated with liver disease.

Albumin (ALB) - 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.

Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP) - An enzyme produced by the biliary tract (liver). High levels indicate bone disease, liver disease or bile flow blockage.

Amylase (AMYL) - The pancreas produces and secrets amylase to aid in digestion. Elevated blood levels can indicate pancreatic and/or kidney disease.

Bile Acid Tests - Bile acids are produced by the liver and are involved in fat breakdown. A pre and post meal bile acid test is used to evaluate the function of the liver and the blood flow to the liver. All dogs on Phenobarbital should have a bile acid test done at least every 6 months. Your vet will ask you to fast your dog for 12 hours prior to the first blood draw. Your dog is then fed a high fat meal such as canned dog food. Another blood sample is drawn two hours (may vary according to the lab your vet uses) after eating. These two blood tests will measure liver function when the liver is at rest and when the liver is challenged with a fatty meal. Please be careful during the fast as even a small amount of food can affect the fasting blood test. As a general rule medication can be given during the fast, however, they must not be given with food.

Blood Glucose (GLU) - 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 pancreas, an underactive adrenal gland.

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) - 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.

Calcium (CA) - Blood calcium levels are influenced by diet, hormone levels and blood protein levels. Decreased levels indicate acute damage to the pancreas or underactive parathyroid. Muscle twitches may occur in decreased level. Increased levels can be an indicator of certain types of tumors, parathyroid or kidney disease. Dr. Goldstein mentioned in his book, Nature of Animal Healing that low calcium level may indicate deficiency of pancreatic enzymes, and high calcium level may indicate poor metabolism of fats and protein.

Cholesterol (CHOL) - 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.

Complete Blood Count (CBC) - The complete blood count measures the number and type of cells circulating in the bloodstream. There are three major types of blood cells in circulation, red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC) and platelets. White blood cells include neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils and basophils. Blood cells are produced in bone marrow with the exception of lymphocytes, which are produced in the lymph glands throughout the body. Red Blood Cells are decreased when a patient has anemia. An increase usually indicates dehydration. Neutrophils can be decreased in dogs with bone marrow disease, some viral diseases or from cancer chemotherapy drugs. Neutrophils are increased in dogs with inflammation or infection of any part of the body or from the use of cortisone-type drugs. Lymphocytes may be increased when infection is present and decreased from severe stress, diarrhea or the use of certain drugs such as prednisone. Monocytes may be increased in dogs with chronic infections. Eosinophils and basophils are increased in dogs with allergic diseases or parasitic infections such as worms or fleas. Low platelet counts occur if the bone marrow is damaged and can't produce them or if the platelets are destroyed at a rate faster then normal. Packed Cell Volume (PCV) is another measure of red blood cells, which compares the number of cells to the total volume of blood.

Creatinine (CREA) - 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 suggests an early or mild problem. An increased creatinine and increased BUN with elevated phosphorus indicate a long-standing kidney disease.

Electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Chloride) - The balance of these chemicals is vital to health. Abnormal levels can be life threatening. Electrolyte tests are important in evaluating vomiting, diarrhea and cardiac symptoms.

Gamma-glutamyltransferase GGT - Circulating GGT is considered to originate from the liver. Elevations are caused from the use of glucocorticoid therapy or liver disease.

Globulins (GLOB) - 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.Glucose: is only accurate if a proper fast has preceded the blood draw. The most common cause of elevations in glucose levels is improper fasting. If glucose levels were high with a proper fast it would indicate diabetes mellitus, steroid therapy, acute pancreatitis or hyperadrenocorticism. Low glucose levels indicate hypoglycemia, liver insufficiency or insulin overdose.

Hematocrit (HCT) or Packed Cell Volume (PCV) - Provides information on the amount of red blood cells (RBC) present in the blood. Decreased levels means anemia from hemorrhage, parasites, nutritional deficiencies or chronic disease process, such as liver disease, cancer, etc. Increased levels are often seen in dehydration.

Hemoglobin (Hb) - The essential oxygen carrier of the blood. Decreased levels indicate the presence of hemorrhage, anemia, and iron deficiency. Increased levels indicate higher than normal concentrate of RBC, B-12 deficiency (because there are fewer cells).

Lipase - elevations indicate pancreatitis.

Lymphocytes (L/M) - These smooth, round white blood cells increase in number with chronic infection, recovery from acute infection or underactive glands and decrease with stress, or treatment with steroids and chemotherapy drug.

MCV - Measurement of the average size of the RBC. Elevated volumes can be due to B-12 folic acid deficiency and reduced volumes are from an iron deficiency.PH Levels - It should be 6.2~6.5, little on the acidic side.

Phosphorus (PHOS) - 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.

Platelets (PLT) - Play an important role in blood clotting. Decrease in number occurs in bone marrow depression, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, systemic lupus, severe hemorrhage or intravascular coagulation. Increased number may occur with fracture or blood vessel injury, or cancer.

Red Blood Cells (RBC) - Responsible for carrying oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body. Iron deficiency will lower RBC count. In more reduced count, it may indicate hemorrhage, parasites, bone marrow disease, B-12 deficiency, folic acid deficiency or copper deficiency. RBC lives for 120 days so an anemia of any kind other than hemorrhage indicates a long-standing problem.

Reticulocytes - Immature red blood cells. Decreased count is usually associate with anemia. Increased count is associated with chronic hemorrhage or hemolytic anemia.

Total Billirubin (TBIL) - 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.

Total Protein (TP) - Increases indicate dehydration or blood cancer, bone marrow cancer; decreases indicate malnutrition, poor digestion, liver or kidney disease, bleeding or burns. Triglycerides: are another form of fat and are responsible for gross lipemia often seen in serum or plasma samples. Elevations are caused by insufficient fasting prior to blood sample, hypothyroidism and diabetes mellitus.


Color - Normal color is yellow to amber. Red is caused by Blood, Dark yellow to brown with yellow form are caused by bilirubin, reddish brown is caused by hemoglobin / myoglobin. Gravity - 1.007 ~ 1.029 occurs with diabetes mellitus, insipidus, overactive adrenals, excessive thirst and pyometra. A pet with kidney failure has a specific gravity of between 1.008-1.012. In cats with normal kidney function, the Gravity should be greater than 1.034, in dogs it should be greater than 1.025. However, over 1.040 can occur with high fever, dehydration, diabetes mellitus, vomiting, diarrhea and severe hemorrhage. Transparency - Normal is clear. Crystals, cells, blood, mucous, bacteria or cast, cause cloudy urine.

White blood cells (WBC) - The body's primary means of fighting infection. Decreased levels may indicate an overwhelming infections (viruses), or drug / chemical poisoning. Increased levels indicate bacterial infection, emotional upsets and blood disorders.

Many times, the results of the CBC when combined with a good physical exam and history make diagnosis easy. A female dog was in heat 2 to 3 months previously, her water consumption is elevated, and she seems weak in the rear quarters. The veterinarian is thinking she may have a severe uterine disorder called pyometra. The CBC comes back with a grossly elevated WBC count of 45,000 and the diagnosis is virtually confirmed.

When the results of the CBC are available to us, we are better equipped to determine the overall health of the animal. It will help us determine if an infection is present and to differentiate if it is viral, bacterial, or parasitic. A CBC can diagnose or help confirm other disorders such as allergies, autoimmune diseases, anemia, leukemia, and many others.

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