SERUM CHEM­ISTRY PRO­FILE

EQUUS - - Eq Tack& Gear -

LAY­ERS: Wil­son. “I usu­ally be­come more con­cerned if a horse has a low white cell count than if it’s high, be­cause a low count usu­ally means the horse is very sick at the time you are tak­ing the blood sam­ple.”

Fi­nally, a CBC will show the platelet count, the to­tal vol­ume of the cells that are in­stru­men­tal in form­ing clots and stim­u­lat­ing heal­ing af­ter in­jury. More spe­cific tests---mean platelet vol­ume (MPV) and platelet dis­tri­bu­tion width (PDW)---record the av­er­age sizes of the platelets. A low platelet count, which can be caused by cer­tain drugs or tox­ins, may leave the horse at risk of un­con­trolled bleed­ing. Platelet counts usu­ally re­turn to nor­mal soon af­ter the drug is dis­con­tin­ued. Ab­nor­mally high platelet counts are rare in horses.

Fo­cus­ing on the clear, yel­low­ish liq­uid left af­ter all the solid blood cells are re­moved by clot­ting and then cen­trifug­ing, the serum chem­istry pro­fil­ing can iden­tify lev­els of var­i­ous pro­teins and en­zymes, elec­trolytes and other bio­chem­i­cals that in­di­cate over­all health as well as in­di­vid­ual or­gan func­tion.

“Re­sults of the serum chem­istry help me eval­u­ate sys­tems such as the liver, kid­neys or mus­cles,” says Marsh. “It helps us know if the body is in good health or if there is some­thing ab­nor­mal go­ing on that needs fur­ther ex­plo­ration.” Some of the ma­jor val­ues a vet­eri­nar­ian may look for in­clude:

• Pro­teins. The tests mea­sure lev­els of the pro­teins al­bu­min and glob­u­lin. “It is im­por­tant to check pro­tein lev­els be­cause pro­tein in the blood is re­spon­si­ble for keep­ing fluid in­side the blood ves­sels and not leak­ing out into body tis­sues,” says Wil­son. “Usu­ally the horse loses pro­tein from the blood through se­vere di­ar­rhea. Horses can also lose it through the kid­neys if the kid­neys are not func­tion­ing prop­erly.”

Low pro­tein lev­els may also sig­nal a liver prob­lem. “The pro­tein is pro­duced in the liver, so if the pro­tein is low this might mean the horse has a liver prob­lem---if there are other things on the pro­file that are con­sis­tent with liver dam­age,” says Wil­son.

The al­bu­min/glob­u­lin ra­tio can also help to dis­tin­guish health is­sues that will af­fect both to­gether, such as de­hy­dra­tion, from ill­nesses that will af­fect one more than the other.

An­other im­por­tant pro­tein is fib­rino­gen, which aids the for­ma­tion of blood clots. “Fib­rino­gen is an acute-phase pro­tein gen­er­ated by the equine liver that can in­di­cate an in­flam­ma­tory

For some tests, a cen­trifuge is used to sep­a­rate the dif­fer­ent types of cells in a blood sam­ple. PLASMA WHITE BLOOD CELLS AND PLATELETS

RED BLOOD CELLS

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