A blood test or diagnostic test helps us to learn details about the wellbeing of your dog, which can only be learned by extracting and examining a blood sample. This includes a CBC (complete blood count) and a blood chemistry that analyses the chemical components in the blood.

CBC for dogs is used to classify and measure white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets in a specified volume of blood. This involves a study of the form and condition of cells for health and functionality. This information helps you understand more about your dog’s immune system (white blood cells) and its ability to bear oxygen (red blood cells).

Often the CBC may help to assess the underlying cause of anemia or infection. Drugs that have an effect on the bone marrow alter the CBC. Certain types of cancers, particularly leukemia, can be evident from a blood test. Blood parasites and certain microorganisms are identified by careful examination of the blood cells during the CBC. In certain cases, the results of the CBC might lead the veterinarian to prescribe further diagnostic tests.

How is Complete Blood Count (CBC) performed?

For a complete blood count, the veterinarian may take a blood sample from the cephalic vein by inserting a needle into the forelimb, starting distally (near the paw) and working proximally (away from the paw). The blood sample is then sent to the laboratory for further examination.

What does Complete Blood Count (CBC) measures?

The CBC indicates veterinarian the status of your dog’s anemia, inflammation, hydration, blood clotting, and immune system response. CBC is important for dogs with symptoms such as diarrhea, fatigue, pale gums fever, vomiting, or lack of appetite.

What does the Complete Blood Count (CBC) tell us about red blood cells? 

RBC is a representation of the number of cells circulating. If it is low, it means that your canine friend has anemia and, depending on the situation, further diagnoses may be required to find out why. If this number is too high, it generally means that your dog is dehydrated, although there are uncommon diseases that can cause a high red cell count in the absence of dehydration.

What does the Complete Blood Count (CBC) tell us about white blood cells?

In the case of white blood cells or leukocytes, the differential count determines what types of leukocytes are present, which gives your veterinarian an idea of the origins of any inflammation. In the differential count, we get two measurements for each type of cell – a percentage and an absolute count. Percentages indicate whether the ratio of different types of cells is normal. Absolute counts reflect the degree to which each cell count is either too high or too low. White blood cells are usually elevated when infection is present and can decrease in some disease processes or when certain medications are provided, such as chemotherapeutic agents.

What does the Complete Blood Count (CBC) tell us about platelets?

Platelet counts are often carried out in combination with a complete blood cell count (CBC). Platelet counts of less than 20,000 to 30,000 per microliter of blood are likely to cause spontaneous hemorrhage. Additional diagnostic tests may be used to examine the underlying causes of the problem. These can include additional veterinary tests, such as: blood tests, x-rays, ultrasound, or bone marrow samples, depending on the type of the suspected underlying process.

Does CBC cause side effects in dogs?

CBCs typically do not cause any side effects. If side effects occur, they are mostly mild and occur at the needle site. Side effects that could occur include:

  • bruising
  • swelling
  • infection
  • discomfort
  • bleeding