The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - EYE | PETS - WORDS: DR MARK REEVE

Vets are of­ten chal­lenged by the fact that their pa­tients are un­able to talk about their symp­toms. How­ever, af­ter per­form­ing a thor­ough clin­i­cal exam — in­clud­ing lis­ten­ing to the heart, feel­ing the ab­domen and joints, and tak­ing a his­tory of signs from the owner — I can nor­mally work out what the pa­tient’s likely prob­lem is.

In most cases, the next step is run­ning some blood tests. It’s clear to me, when I dis­cuss these with pet own­ers, that a lot of peo­ple don’t know what the blood tests are look­ing for or what they can do.

Blood tests ob­vi­ously rely on us tak­ing a sam­ple of blood from your pet — this is nor­mally about 2-3ml, ex­cept in very young or small an­i­mals where the sam­ple size can be much smaller.

The sam­ples are then run through an au­to­mated process that makes sev­eral small chem­i­cal re­ac­tions to mea­sure the lev­els of dif­fer­ent in­di­ca­tors.

The red and white cells are then counted and ex­am­ined.

Some vet­eri­nar­i­ans will run these tests in-house while oth­ers will have an ex­ter­nal lab­o­ra­tory run the tests. We then get a print­out of a long list of mark­ers or level of chem­i­cals in the blood. For each species we com­pare these re­sults against what is con­sid­ered nor­mal range — like hu­man blood tests. De­pend­ing on the test re­sults — whether the read­ings are low, high or nor­mal — we can find out dif­fer­ent in­for­ma­tion. For in­stance, there are two mark­ers (urea and cre­a­ti­nine) that well­func­tion­ing kid­neys keep in a set range. Kid­neys that are de­hy­drated or kid­neys that are not work­ing well can lead to both kid­ney mark­ers be­com­ing el­e­vated. So, if I see this on some blood tests I know we need to look at hy­dra­tion and kid­ney func­tion

We also run blood tests to check on the pro­gres­sion of dis­ease. For in­stance, my dog Trae has epilepsy and is on a long-term med­i­ca­tion to help con­trol seizures. He also needs reg­u­lar blood tests to check that she is get­ting enough of the med­i­ca­tion and to make sure they are not caus­ing any side ef­fects that would re­quire a dose change.

Fi­nally, I tell clients that the bloods tests can be lim­ited — there are a lot of things we can’t test for. The blood tests also only give us a snap­shot or what is hap­pen­ing and may need to be re-run ev­ery cou­ple of days. Dr Reeve is a mem­ber of the Aus­tralian Ve­teri­nary As­so­ci­a­tion

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