When I was a kid, I thought blood tests did everything. Spoiler alert: They don’t.
Like all diagnostic tests, blood tests must be read in context. That is, we don’t randomly prescribe blood tests, we must know what we’re looking for.
Here are three things you probably didn’t know about blood tests.
1) Not all blood tests are the same
Performing a blood test is like taking a photo of your furbaby. Doing different blood tests is like taking a photo of your furbaby from different angles (and we all know how important those angles are!)
The question is which angle (blood test) is the best for what we’re trying to see?
Take Obi’s pancreatitis, for example. He was vomiting and he wasn’t eating. Our job as his very, very concerned god-mothers and vets, was to figure out why he was vomiting. That’s why he had the full blood test, we needed to make sure he had enough white blood cells and we needed to make sure his liver and kidneys and pancreas were happy.
At My Vet, results come back in less than half an hour, which is great because we were so worried!
The amylase and lipase were slightly high, so we needed another blood test. This specific blood test only tests for one thing – pancreatitis.
In Obi’s case, it was positive.
The reason we needed to do multiple tests is because there can be different organs being affected at once. As vets, we want to do things step-by-step, so we don’t miss a thing.
2) Blood tests can help us spot a brewing problem
This is most important in older furbabies! (Not sure how old your furbaby is? Read this to learn your furbaby’s biological age.)
Blood tests can help us detect dysfunction before they become real problems. That’s why we recommend a blood test when your furbaby hits the age of seven! Some diseases don’t really have a cure, but we can prevent them from progressing. Other diseases can be cured if we catch them in time.
Take little Fenway’s blood results, for example. He’s an older boy and was having some trouble with arthritis. Before just putting him on medication with potential side effects, we did a blood test just in case.
It’s a good thing we did! Some of the medications we use can make the kidneys unhappy. And he had a slight uptick in his SDMA, which is very sensitive for kidney disease.
By catching it in time we not only managed to choose the right medication, his mummy and daddy can also make sure that he’s on a diet that protects his kidneys!
3) Blood tests can tell you everything…and nothing
We’ve already established that there are different types of blood tests and we know that they’re useful.
There’s no perfect blood test. Different blood tests help us detect different things and may be an indicator for even more tests. For some very sneaky diseases, it can be a long journey before we discover our answer. If you’ve heard Chu’s story, we needed to send his blood test all the way to the US before we could arrive at our answer!
In short, blood tests are really valuable specialised tools. Not sure if your furbaby needs one? Have a chat with your local veterinarian!