“Is Bloodwork Really Necessary?”

“Is bloodwork really necessary?” This is a question that pet owners frequently find themselves asking at the vet. Here’s why the answer is so often “yes!”

Our pets can’t tell us how they are feeling and often don’t show signs of health problems until diseases are more advanced. As pet owners, and lovers, it is our job to ensure our pets live happy, healthy, longer lives.

Routine bloodwork and yearly wellness exams are the most important ways to monitor your pet’s health and catch irregularities before they become crises! Kidney, thyroid, heart, and adrenal disease as well as diabetes, if caught early, can all be managed long-term with medication. This helps prolong your pet’s life and minimize large expenses associated with emergency visits and hospital stays.

Harbor Point Animal Hospital believes in preventative medicine. To ensure your pet lives the happiest and healthiest life possible, your veterinarian may recommend bloodwork be done, not only during wellness visits, but before anesthesia, for routine monitoring when on long term medication, or to aid in the diagnosis of an illness.

What It Means:

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

This is the most common blood test performed on people and pets alike. A CBC gives information on hydration status, anemia, infection, blood clotting ability and the ability of the immune system to respond. This test is essential for pets with fever, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, pale gums or loss of appetite. If your pet needs surgery, a CBC can detect bleeding disorders or other unseen abnormalities.


  • Hematocrit
  • Measures the amount of red blood cells
  • Detects anemia and dehydration


  • White Blood Cells
  • Basic immune cells of the body
  • Changes can indicate certain diseases or infections


  • Platelets
  • Cells that allow the body to form clots and stop bleeding

Liver Function

The liver’s function affects all other major organs. If there’s a liver problem, it could impact other areas of the body.


  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Protein that is related to liver damage, Cushing’s disease, steroids, and active bone growth in young pets.


  • Alanine Aminotransferase
  • Indication of active liver disease

Kidney Function

The kidneys act as a filter, removing waste and toxins from the body. If they’re not functioning properly, harmful toxins can build up in the bloodstream. Improper kidney function can also lead to problems during surgery because your pet may not be able to filter out the anesthesia, complicating your pet’s recovery.


  • Blood Urea Nitrogen
  • Property for kidney function
  • Increased level of nitrogenous waste products (proteins) is called azotemia


  • Creatinine
  • Property of kidney function
  • Helps distinguish between kidney and non-kidney causes of elevated BUN

Other Common Tests


  • Glucose
  • Known as “blood sugar,” greatly elevated levels may indicate diabetes mellitus
  • Low levels can cause collapse or coma


  • Thyroxine
  • Thyroid hormone
  • Decreased levels are associated with primary hypothyroidism (dogs) while elevations are associated with hyperthyroidism (cats).

These tests provide important information on your pet’s health status. Since bloodwork changes often occur before you see symptoms, it is a valuable part of our preventative program. Call Harbor Point Animal Hospital today to find out more or to schedule your pet’s yearly wellness exam!