In this post, our Harlingen vets explain the different lab tests we perform on cats and what you can learn from them about your cat's health.
What are common lab tests?
You know that your cat's routine exams are critical to their health, but what do those lab tests actually tell your vet? And what kinds of information can you learn about your cat's health from routine screening?
At Altas Palmas Animal Clinic, we approach treatment with a prevention-first mindset. When we examine your pet, we complete a thorough nose-to-tail physical checkup on their health, including internal checks for blood pressure, heart rate and rhythm, and blood pressure.
At our facility, we conduct necessary medical tests for pets, including blood and urine tests, in our on-site laboratory. This enables us to receive prompt results and swiftly diagnose symptoms to initiate treatment. A standard blood screen typically involves a complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry profile. Additionally, your veterinarian may suggest testing for feline AIDS, feline leukemia, and thyroid hormone levels to indicate specific health conditions. Here is a brief overview of what each test can uncover:
Complete Blood Count
This test examines your cat's red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells. Each type of white blood cell has a specific reaction to any threats that the immune system may face. During a CBC, the veterinarian will analyze the total number of white blood cells and the number of each type of white blood cell in your cat's blood sample.
Red blood cells (RBCs) transport oxygen to various tissues in the body. A CBC counts the number of RBCs in your cat's blood and measures how effectively they transport oxygen based on the hemoglobin levels, the protein that carries oxygen, in the blood.
Platelets play a role in blood clotting. If there aren't enough platelets, insufficient clotting may occur, leading to excessive or abnormal bleeding in your cat. A CBC will count the number of platelets present in your cat's blood.
Blood Chemistry Profile
The blood chemistry profile is a comprehensive test assessing the various compounds in your cat's bloodstream. This test can help determine the functionality of your cat's kidneys, identify any abnormalities in the renal systems, and indicate dehydration or obstructions.
The liver is a crucial organ for your cat's well-being. If there are elevated levels of chemicals that may suggest liver disease or issues with other organs, they will be revealed through this test.
Any abnormal electrolyte levels will be detected as well. These levels can be linked to gastrointestinal disease, seizures, and other illnesses.
Blood protein levels are also essential for your cat's health, as some play a role in the immune system's function while others assist in clotting. A blood chemistry profile will inform your veterinarian about the total protein, globulin, and albumin levels.
Thyroid Hormone Measurements
If you suspect that your cat may have hyperthyroidism, measuring their thyroid hormone levels can confirm the diagnosis. This disease is common among middle-aged and senior cats and can lead to increased thyroid hormone levels in their bloodstream.
Feline AIDS and Feline Leukemia Testing
Your veterinarian may conduct tests for feline leukemia and feline AIDS on your cat, especially if she hasn't been tested before, is at high risk of exposure, or is currently ill.
This test may also be necessary if your cat has come into contact with another cat carrying either of these viruses. Although retroviruses cause both of these diseases, they are distinct from each other.
Based on the results of these initial blood tests, your vet may suggest further, more specialized testing.
To ensure your cat's overall health, bringing in a urine sample for their regular checkup is important. Although it may seem like a messy task, a urine test can detect potentially life-threatening diseases such as bladder stones, kidney disease, and diabetes.
Early detection of these conditions can lead to better treatment options and a happier, healthier life for your pet. Your veterinarian can also offer guidance on nutrition and preventative measures to keep your cat in top shape.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets.
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