Complete Blood Count/Blood Chemistry (CBC/CHEM)
The CBC is an ever-changing picture of the patient’s health. This test gives information on the condition of both the red and white blood cells as well as the platelets. Although normal values of the CBC may be affected by nutrition, age, excitement or agitation, or disease, it is when the values are examined as a whole that the health of the patient emerges.
Red Blood Cells (RBCs)
RBCs, or erythrocytes, are the cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. Changes in the RBCs may be evidence of anemia, dehydration or possible bone marrow disease.
Three components of the RBCs are of particular interest.
- Reticulocytes are young, immature RBCs present in cases of anemia. In high numbers, they are indicative of regenerative anemias. These anemias may be due to blood loss (such as injury, or parasites such as hookworms or fleas), or immune-mediated disease in which the RBCs are attacked and destroyed by the body’s own immune system. A low reticulocyte account may indicate a non-regenerative anemia caused by the inability of the bone marrow to produce adequate numbers of RBCs. There are many disease processes that can cause non-regenerative anemias.
- Hemoglobin is the component of the RBC that actually carries the oxygen. Decreased amounts of hemoglobin suggest that there may not be enough oxygen being supplied to vital body organs and tissues.
- Packed Cell Volume (PCV), also known as the hematocrit, measures the percentage or volume of RBCs in the total blood. If an animal is dehydrated, the PCV will be high. A low PCV may be caused by an anemia.
White Blood Cells (WBCs)
WBCs, or leukocytes, are best known for their infection fighting abilities. The WBCs are made up of several different types of blood cells, each designed to fight infection in its own way. While each is always present in the blood, abnormally high or low numbers may indicate infection or disease.
- Neutrophils are the most common WBCs found in animal blood. A neutrophil’s main responsibility is to fight infection. Constantly circulating in the bloodstream, neutrophils can be immediately mobilized to fight infection by engulfing and destroying bacteria.
- Lymphocytes are selective immune cells that work to produce antibodies to prevent infection. These are the cells that respond to vaccines and help prevent disease. They also attack foreign material that has been recognized by the immune system.
- Eosinophils are primarily involved in controlling allergic reactions and parasitic challenges to the body. When necessary, they can also be called upon to destroy bacteria.
- Monocytes are responsible for removing cell debris from the bloodstream and other tissues. An elevated presence of monocytes may indicate chronic inflammation.
- Basophils,usually present in small numbers in the blood, their primary purpose is to allow better circulation to areas of inflammation by releasing heparin, an anticoagulant. Basophils also work with eosinophils to react to parasites and allergies.
- Platelets are the physical clotting components of the blood. If an animal has a low platelet count, we would be concerned about a possible bleeding disorder.
BUN(blood urea nitrogen) – is a waste product from protein breakdown in the liver. It is excreted by the kidneys. Increases may be seen with decreased kidney function, dehydration, heart disease, shock and urinary obstruction as well as following eating a high protein diet and gastrointestinal bleeding. Decreases may be seen with hepatic insufficiency and overhydration.
CREA(creatinine) – is a waste product of muscle metabolism. It is also excreted by the kidneys. Increases may be seen with decreased kidney function and other conditions as noted with BUN.
BUN:Creatinine ratio– can help determine if the high BUN level is caused by kidney disease or other conditions, especially gastrointestinal bleeding.
PHOS(phosphorus) – increases are commonly seen associated with kidney failure.
CA(calcium) -is one of the most important elements in the body, essential for maintenance and repair of bone and teeth, heart function and blood clotting. Increases may be seen in a variety of diseases including kidney disease, certain cancer types, certain toxicities and parathyroid disease.
ALT(alanine aminotransferase) – increases are a sensitive indicator of liver cell damage.
ALKP(alkaline phosphatase) – increases may indicate a liver abnormality (cholestasis), Cushing’s disease, active bone growth in young pets, active bone remodeling after bone injury and may be induced by multiple drugs and nonspecific conditions
GGT(gamma glutamyl transferase) – increases may indicate a certain type of liver abnormality (cholestasis).
ALB(albumin) – increases may indicate dehydration; decreases may be seen with decreased liver function, blood loss, gastrointestinal disease and kidney disease.
TBIL(total bilirubin) – increases may be seen with liver disease (cholestasis and insufficiency) and certain types of anemia.
AMYL(amylase ) – increases may be seen with pancreatitis, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disease and certain drug treatments; degree of change and other laboratory data may help identify pancreatitis specifically.
LIPA(lipase) – increases may be seen with pancreatitis, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disease and certain drug treatments; degree of change and other laboratory data may help identify pancreatitis specifically.
TP(total protein) – increases may indicate dehydration or an inflammatory condition; decreases may be seen in decreased liver function, blood loss, gastrointestinal loss and kidney loss.
ALB(albumin) – the most plentiful protein in the blood, is produced primarily in the liver and helps keep the fluid portion of the blood within the blood vessels. Increases may indicate dehydration. Decreases may be seen with decreased liver function, blood loss, gastrointestinal disease and kidney disease.
GLOB(globulin) – are proteins that can be formed in the liver or the immune system. Increases may be seen with inflammation and potential chronic infection. Decreases may be seen with blood loss, gastrointestinal loss and immune deficiencies.
Na(sodium) – is one of the body’s principal minerals and levels are regulated by the kidneys. It plays an important role in water balance. Increases may indicate dehydration. Decreases may be seen with loss during diarrhea and vomiting or with Addison’s disease and kidney disease.
K(potassium) – is also one of the body’s principal minerals, found primarily inside cells. It helps maintain water balance as well as proper function of nerves and muscles. Increases may indicate kidney disease, Addison’s disease, dehydration or kidney obstruction. Decreases may be seen with loss during diarrhea or vomiting.
Cl(chloride) – is also one of the body’s minerals involved in water balance. Increases may indicate dehydration. Decreases may be seen with loss during diarrhea or vomiting.
GLU(glucose) – is the primary energy source for all body tissues. Increases may indicate diabetes mellitus. Decreases may be due to liver disease, pancreatic disease and other conditions and could lead to collapse, seizure or coma.
CHOL(cholesterol) – is an essential blood fat found in nearly every body tissue. Increases may be seen with a variety of metabolic disturbances including diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, pancreatitis and some types of kidney disease. Decreases may be seen with liver insufficiency and intestinal disease.
T4(thyroxine) – is a hormone released by the thyroid gland and helps to regulate metabolism. Hyperthroidism (elevated T4) is frequently seen in cats (very rare in dogs) and is a common cause of weight loss in older cats. Hypothyroidism (low T4) is seen frequently in dogs (very rare in cats) and symptoms include: weight gain, lethargy, and chronic skin problems.
Emergency services are available to our regular clients and patients.