Revamping the Lab: How Our New in House Laboratory Can Help Both You and Your Pet
We took the opportunity over lockdown to revamp our in house laboratory to allow us to process more tests in house and offer a better service to our clients.
Blood Testing: Why is Testing my Pets Blood Important?
When you bring your pet into our practice, our vets carry out a full medical exam and look at your pet's records to make a diagnosis. Although our vets can see what’s happening on the outside and hear what is happening on the inside, some conditions can only be detected by testing a small sample of blood.
Blood tests can detect a huge range of conditions such as early kidney and liver disease, anaemia, inflammatory disease, heart disease, some cancers, infection, allergies and dehydration. They can detect thyroid and hormone levels and diagnose medical conditions such as Cushing's, Addison's, Feline Leukemia, pancreatitis and much, much more.
Routine blood tests are also a really important part of monitoring your pets kidney and liver function and how they are responding to treatment when they are on long term medications such as NSAIDs, steroids, heart and thyroid treatment. These tests pick up problems before clinical signs are present and can help reduce permanent damage if detected early.
Most pets are fit and healthy and blood testing may not always be necessary. But without testing, we may not be aware of certain underlying conditions. We would recommend that any pet over the age of eight years should consider blood testing before any surgical procedure and annually as part of their health check with their vet, to pick up any problems before clinical signs develop.
Why Should I Consider a Blood Test for my Pet Before Their Anaesthetic?
Whilst we make any anaesthetic your pet needs as safe as possible (by using highly qualified staff, premedication protocols, blood pressure monitoring, intravenous fluids throughout the procedure and specialist monitoring equipment) we cannot fully assess whether it is 100% safe without a blood test. This is why we offer all our patients pre-anaesthetic blood testing.
Research has shown that the benefits of pets having pre-anaesthetic blood tests before surgery are tremendous. Not only do these blood tests detect whether the pet is unwell or suffering from health issues, but it also allows us to manage the patients anaesthetic much better during surgery- making the procedure as safe as possible.
Before surgery, we will also ask whether your dog has had a recent lungworm treatment such as Nexgard, as dogs with a lungworm infection are more likely to bleed under anaesthetic. If your dog hasn’t been treated recently we can run a quick in-house test to check if they require treatment for lungworm. Those that are positive would have to have their procedure delayed whilst they have treatment; to make sure surgery is as safe as possible. It is important to routinely treat your dog monthly for lungworm in case they need an unexpected procedure.
How Do We Take a Blood Test?
A blood sample is taken from the patient's leg or neck. Most pets will allow us to take them easily, although some pets can be a bit wiggly as they don’t want to sit still! We clip the area first and apply a small amount of local anaesthetic cream to make the collection of the sample more comfortable. For most tests, we only require 1-2 MLS of blood.
What Can a Drop of Urine Tell Us?
We have some fantastic urinalysis machines!
Urine gives us lots of valuable information about a patient's health. Urine may contain crystals, blood, bacteria, protein and lots more! Our lab machines can detect these quickly, helping our vets with their diagnosis.
It can help us diagnose cystitis, urinary tract infections, kidney infections, kidney disease, diabetes, liver disease, some blood disorders and inflammation.
We can also detect if there are crystals present forming in their urine, which can be painful and in some cases, life-threatening-should a blockage occur. If left untreated, these crystals can form into bladder or kidney stones which require surgery to remove. By looking down a microscope at the urine or by using our in-house lab machines and measuring the pH of the urine, we can identify the type of crystal and begin treatment.
Just like blood tests, testing your pet's urine annually can help detect problems before clinical signs develop.
We Can Also Test Lots of Other Things!
We can take an ear swab and examine the sample in house under a microscope, once it has been stained to detect bacteria and Malassezia. We can also look for parasites such as this little guy!
Poo can also give us a lot of information about a pet's health, helping us to diagnose parasites, campylobacter, salmonella, giardia, parvo, digestive problems and other diseases.
We also have access to external laboratories to allow us to process a broad range of tests that we can't carry out in house.
Over the years, our testing capabilities have advanced which allows us to detect conditions early, giving us a greater insight into your pet's health.
We love our lab machines!