What is my veterinarian looking for on a lab test?

It depends. If your pet comes in with a presenting condition, such as not feeling well or not acting like themselves, the blood work can give us a lot of information. If it's something systemic, whether it's an upset belly or just not acting quite right, we can sometimes get some early signs of what may be causing your pet not to feel very well.

Boca Park Animal Hospital

What information will my veterinarian need to know about my dog before the lab tests are performed?

The more information you give us, the better it always is. If your pet is acting normal and fine, that's great. It gives us a baseline. It tells us normal functions and values for all your pet's organs, blood numbers, CBC, etc. If your pet's not acting well, please tell us everything that's going on:

  • Things they may have got into
  • Whether they're experiencing some vomiting or diarrhea
  • If they're just really lethargic
  • If they're drinking a lot of water or not enough water
  • If they're getting picky with their food when they're normally not
  • Any information you can give us, whether you feel it's relevant or not, will help the doctor decide what could be going on with your pet and what further diagnostics may or may not be needed.

What question should I ask my veterinarian about my dog's lab tests?

You want to ask what the results are. Suppose you have any questions, ask what they mean, what they could mean, and what issues could be causing your pet's illness. Our doctors greatly appreciate any questions. They'll be happy to explain any questions you may have.

Will my dog need an exam before the lab test is performed?

We generally like to see your pet within the year. If it's beyond a year, we want to physically see your pet so we can see what's going on, look at their vitals, and just their overall behavior. Visually seeing your pet helps us in the exam as well for any other conditions that may be going on that you may not notice or understand.

How is my dog's blood, urine, fecal, and/or skin sample collected?

Blood is generally collected from the vein. We do what's called a jugular blood draw, where we get blood from the neck or the arm. It depends on the comfort level of your pet. For fecal collection, we usually send you home with a container. Once your pet produces fecal matter, you will bring that sample to us. If there are any skin conditions, we take what's called an impression smear. We take a slide and push it on your pet's lesions. Urine is collected by either a free catch or what's called cystocentesis, where we stick a needle into the bladder. I know this sounds crazy, but it gives us the best sample. It's a very sterile sample and allows us to see whether your pet has bacteria or anything else that shouldn't be in their urine. It's very safe, and they usually tolerate it very well.

How can lab tests help my dog?

It gives us a baseline. Even if they're feeling like themselves, it gives us a baseline of normal values and functions. In the future, if anything does happen with your pet or they don't feel well, we can compare them to previous blood work to see if there are any changes. If they are not feeling well, it will help us narrow down why they're not feeling well. Maybe their liver is not functioning properly. Maybe their kidneys are not functioning properly. It allows us to focus our diagnostic and medical care in a direction that will help your pet.

How effective are lab tests in dogs?

They're very effective. They give us a lot of information. It allows us to see what's going on internally that we can't see or know is happening. The labs and materials are very sensitive and give us a lot of information.

How much do lab tests costs?

That's a wide-range answer. It depends on the type of diagnostic we are doing. That said, the earlier you come in and the more preventative care you do, the cheaper it can be because we're ahead of it. We're on top of it, as opposed to bringing in your pet when they're very sick, where there are more diagnostics and more issues arise. So the earlier you come in to give us those baselines, it helps us find what's going on a lot quicker, a lot cheaper, and a lot safer.

Are lab tests covered by pet insurance?

You'd have to check with your individual insurance. Some do cover lab tests, and some don't, but just call your insurance company and ask them what they do and do not cover.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (702) 213-4513, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.