Lab Tests for Dogs

It is likely to be a straightforward diagnosis when your dog's medical condition requires a veterinarian visit. Although, there are times when your vet may need more information regarding your dog's health. If necessary, your veterinarian will recommend that specific blood work and other bodily fluids like urine be tested to further check for internal complications.

Comprehensive Lab Testing for Dogs

Blood and other lab tests are part of your veterinarian's periodic wellness exams for dogs. By collecting a sample of your dog's blood, a CBC (complete blood count) and blood chemistries can analyze chemical components in the blood.

White blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets can be identified in this CBC. Analyzing the shape and condition of the cell includes information that is helpful to learn more about your dog's immune system (white blood cells) and the oxygen-carrying capacity (red blood cell count) for health and functionality. In addition to a CBC, other blood tests for dogs can also identify:

  • Glucose
  • Proteins
  • Electrolytes
  • Cholesterol
  • Endocrine Levels
  • Digestive Enzymes
Dog on medical table

You must look at your dog's blood test as a veterinarian's toolkit. It helps to detect, identify, diagnose, and even treat illnesses or diseases. Chemicals found in the bloodstream correlate with specific organs; these are beneficial to help your veterinarian determine more than just the blood count. When a dog's blood test shows a deficiency in levels such as albumin, your veterinarian knows to examine your dog's liver because albumin is produced in the liver, indicating hydration or liver and kidney diseases.

Lab tests for dogs will help detect abnormal hormonal-chemical responses to environmental and internal stimuli. These responses alert your veterinarian to a potential issue in your dog's internal system. These results identify complex problems resulting in valuable information to diagnose and treat your dog's health issues.

Here's when to expect recommended blood work for your dog:

  • First veterinary exam: Upon your puppy's initial or first veterinary visit, they should recommend blood work to set up healthy baseline information, rule out congenital diseases, and possibly pre-anesthetic testing before being spayed or neutered.
  • Semi-annual wellness exam: At some point during a semi-annual wellness exam, your veterinarian should recommend blood work as part of a thorough physical examination. This will help identify conditions the regular physical examination portion of a physical cannot detect.
  • Acting Abnormally exam: Another time would be when your dog is not displaying any overt signs of illness, disease, or injury but acting abnormally.
  • Presurgical exam: Before any surgical procedure, blood work is used by your veterinarian to determine the efficiency of your dog's liver and kidneys. They use this to help select the safest dose of anesthesia. The results of these tests can also help determine the surgical risk level for infirmed, elderly, or injured patients.
  • New medication exam: These blood test results may help determine how your dog's liver or kidney will metabolize the new medication.
  • Senior wellness exam: For mature, senior, and geriatric dogs, blood tests are usually recommended as part of their periodic wellness exams. We often see older dogs return to a more youthful state when blood tests identify an issue that can be easily treated, making these results extremely beneficial.

At Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital, we care about your dogs. We will quickly and reliably determine a diagnosis of health concerns and implement successful medical interventions based on the lab work and blood test results.

Schedule an appointment today!

Types Of Lab Tests for Dogs

Lab testing for dogs can assess many features of the blood. In addition to your dog's blood work test, we may process and analyze urine, stool samples, CBC, clotting, chemistries, and cytology. Here are the lab tests for dogs that we perform and what they are for:

  • Urinalysis: This test helps determine hydration status, infections, kidney or bladder disease, diabetes, and other health conditions.
  • Fecal Exam: This test checks fecal matter for color, consistency, and the presence of blood or mucus. Under a microscope, we look for intestinal parasites, fungi, or protozoa.
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): This test determines the Red and white cell count, immunity status, and the measure of hemoglobin, the actual substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen.
  • Blood Clotting Times: Helps identify potential bleeding disorders.
  • Blood Chemistries: Exposes the status of internal organs and gauges their health before anesthetizing for surgery.
  • Cytology: Collects sebum and cellular debris samples on the skin and in the ears to determine an infection. Also, used to perform a needle or core biopsy of lumps or masses to look for cancer cells.

What Do Lab Test Results for My Dog Mean?

Blood tests are second nature to veterinarians. We will most likely run tests for a Complete Blood Count or a Blood Chemistry (serum) test by ordering blood work. Veterinarians use the results of a Complete Blood Count, or CBC,  for information about your dog's hydration status, anemia, infection, blood clotting ability, and immune system response.

Veterinarian giving an injection to a dog

A CBC is essential – especially with symptoms like fever, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, pale gums, or loss of appetite. A CBC may detect unseen abnormalities when a dog needs surgery, such as bleeding disorders. A Complete Blood Count provides specific detailed information, including:

  • Hematocrit (HCT): Detects anemia and hydration by measuring the percentage of red blood cells.
  • Hemoglobin and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration (Hb and MCHC): Detects oxygen-carrying pigments of red blood cells.
  • White blood cell count (WBC): Detects the body's immune cells by measuring increases or decreases in the WBC that indicate certain diseases or infections.
  • Granulocytes and lymphocytes/monocytes (GRANS and L/M): Specific types of white blood cells.
  • Eosinophils (EOS): Specific types of white blood cells that indicate allergic or parasitic conditions.
  • Platelet count (PLT): Detects blood clots by measuring cells that form them.
  • Reticulocytes (RETICS): Detects high levels of immature red blood cells that indicate regenerative anemia.

Here at Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital, we will thoroughly explain the results of your dog's blood test. Only then, with you as your dog's human caretakers, will we treat whatever a blood test indicates as an informed and concerted team effort.

The next step is to process and analyze your dog's blood work sample(s). Blood Chemistries, or blood serum tests, evaluate a dog's organ function, electrolyte status, hormone levels, and more.

At ACVH, we evaluate a dog's health based on the results of these tests. Suppose your dog shows signs of vomiting, diarrhea, or toxin exposure or is the recipient of long-term medications and general health before anesthesia. In that case, these results may be critical for ensuring the appropriate care.

  • Albumin (ALB): A serum protein that helps evaluate hydration, hemorrhage, intestinal, liver, and kidney disease.
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALKP): Elevations in this test may indicate liver damage, Cushing's disease, or active bone growth in a young dog.
  • Alanine aminotransferase (ALT): Determines active liver damage but does not indicate the cause.
  • Amylase (AMYL) Elevations in this test indicate pancreatitis or kidney disease.
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST): Increases may indicate liver, heart, or skeletal muscle damage.
  • Blood urea nitrogen (BUN): Determines kidney function. Increased levels are called azotemia and can be caused by kidney, liver, heart disease, urethral obstruction, shock, or dehydration.
  • Calcium (Ca): Changes in the normal level can indicate various diseases such as tumors, hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease, and low albumin.
  • Cholesterol (CHOL): Used to supplement diagnosis of hypothyroidism, liver disease, Cushing's disease, and diabetes mellitus.
  • Chloride (Cl): An electrolyte typically lost with symptoms like vomiting or illnesses like Addison's disease. Elevations often indicate dehydration.
  • Cortisol (CORT): A hormone that is measured in tests for Cushing's disease (the low-dose dexamethasone suppression test) and Addison's disease (ACTH stimulation test).
  • Creatinine (CREA): Reveals kidney function and helps distinguish between kidney and non-kidney causes of elevated BUN.
  • Gamma Glutamyl Transferase (GGT): An enzyme that indicates liver disease or corticosteroid excess.
  • Globulin (GLOB): A blood protein that often increases with chronic inflammation and certain disease states.
  • Glucose (GLU): Elevated blood-sugar levels may indicate diabetes mellitus. Low levels can cause collapse, seizures, or comas.
  • Potassium (K): An electrolyte typically lost with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive urination. Increased levels may indicate kidney failure, Addison's disease, dehydration, or urethral obstruction. Even higher levels can lead to cardiac arrest.
  • Lipase (LIP): An enzyme that may indicate pancreatitis
  • Sodium (Na): An electrolyte that indicates hydration status. It's often lost with signs of vomiting, diarrhea, kidney disease, and Addison's disease.
  • Phosphorus (PHOS): Elevations are often associated with kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and bleeding disorders.
  • Total bilirubin (TBIL): Elevations may indicate liver or hemolytic disease and helps identify bile duct problems and certain types of anemia.
  • Total protein: Indicates hydration status and provides additional information about the liver, kidneys, and infectious diseases.
  • Thyroxine (T4): A thyroid hormone. Increased levels often indicate hypothyroidism in dogs.

Why Choose Advanced Care for Veterinary Lab Testing?

An essential part of your dog's blood work is to diagnose any disease that it may have. If your dog exhibits abnormal behavior, please schedule a veterinary appointment today with Advance Care Veterinary Hospital as soon as possible to ensure a quick diagnosis!

Veterinarian doctor is making a check up of a australian shepherd dog with stethoscope at clinic

Meet Our Doctors

Jennifer Patton


Dr. Patton’s decision to pursue veterinary medicine came after she realized that while education and teaching is her passion, it is not something she could do as a career. Veterinary medicine allowed her to combine her love of animals with her love of teaching.

After she graduated from Oklahoma State University with her Doctorate, she practiced in several high volume hospitals in the Tulsa area, developing medical skills with varied case loads and growing her leadership skills.


Allissa Huckabay


Dr. Huckabay’s love of science and animals naturally led her to a lifelong passion of veterinary medicine. She worked and volunteered at a local veterinary hospital before she furthered her education at Oklahoma State University, graduating in 2016 with her Doctorate.

Dr Huckabay immediately found her home at ACVH, where she is able to create a healthy bond with each of her patients as she experiences all stages of their care with their owners.


Phillip Adolph

Phillip Adolph, DVM is a graduate of Oklahoma State University Veterinary Health Sciences. He also attended OSU for his undergraduate studies where he graduated with a Bachelors of Arts and Sciences in Agriculture through the College of Animal Sciences. Dr. Adolph was on the President’s Honor Roll and was a member of the OSU jazz orchestra. He joined the Advanced Care team immediately upon his graduation in 2019 after doing 6 weeks of externships during his 4th year of veterinary school.