Looking for fast answers? Our in house laboratory can help! Golden retriever peering out a window

Looking for fast answers? Our in house laboratory can help!

Time is often of the essence in veterinary medicine.  If your cat is diabetic, you want to know at the time of the examination, so options for treatment can be discussed.  If the stray you rescued has leukemia and is potentially contagious to your other cats, you will want to know before you take it home and everyone is introduced.  If your 5 month old Sheltie is vomiting because it is Addisonian and unable to correctly balance its blood electrolyte levels, you need to know right away so appropriate treatment can begin immediately. Having the capability of finding answers quickly and correctly via in-house testing can be life saving, if not just simply more convenient. At the Animal Clinic at Thorndale we can perform many important diagnostic tests in-house, while you wait.

In-House Testing can provide a range of diagnostic results within minutes.

Commonly Run Individual In-House Tests are:

  1. Fecal examination (preliminary screening - always confirmed by our outside laboratory)
  2. Complete or Partial Urinalysis - including the specific gravity, chemistry, and sediment evaluation
  3. Heartworm testing for dogs
  4. Heartworm/Lyme disease/ Anaplasmosis / Ehrlichiosis combination testing for dogs
  5. Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodefeciency Virus (Felines AIDS) testing for cats
  6. PCV -Packed Cell Volume - a measure of anemia
  7. TS -Total Solids - a measure of blood protein levels, affected by dehydraton and a variety of disease states
  8. AZO - a measure of a build up of certain toxins in the blood stream, most commonly from dehydration or kidney problems
  9. Glucose - blood sugar
  10. Clot time - a rough measure of your pet's ability to coagulate properly
  11. CBC with differential/ Chemistry - this includes everything listed in Health Screen 3 below.

Wellness Profiles Run In-House

Pre-Anesthesia Testing

Prior to performing general anesthesia on your pet, we require some basic blood testing.  All dogs must be Heartworm tested negative and have a known Clot time.  Pure breed cats will also be tested for a Clot time.  The minimum data base required (Health Screen 1) is a PCV/TS/AZO/+/-Glucose as described above.  For young healthy patients, we strongly recommend at least Health Screen 2.  This level of testing gives a broad look at basic essential organ functions and the blood system.

Health Screen 2 Includes:

  • CBC w/diff: is a complete blood count of red and white cells and a differentiation of the major population of white cells. This provides detailed information about possible anemia and hemoglobin concentration and can point to an underlying bacterial or viral infection that may compromise your pet’s health.
  • PLATELET COUNT: tells the veterinarian if specific blood clotting elements are present in sufficient numbers.
  • TOTAL PROTEIN: measures the blood fluid protein content. Low levels may indicate failure of protein production (usually a liver problem) or a protein loss (usually a digestive or kidney problem). High levels may indicate dehydration, immune stimulation, or, in rare cases a protein-producing tumor.
  • BUN: (blood urea nitrogen) reflects failure of adequate protein intake or assimilation if lowered and reflects dehydration and in some cases kidney problems if elevated.
  • CREATININE: generally a good specific indicator of kidney function. All anesthetics decrease blood supply to the kidneys to varying degrees. Adequate kidney function is essential to your pet’s health and recovery. Healthy kidneys are necessary to filter out some of the anesthetics.
  • GLUCOSE: the primary circulating sugar in the blood stream. The brain requires adequate circulating levels to function properly. Small animals are especially at risk of developing hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) when fasting. Diabetics will have significantly elevated blood sugar levels.
  • ALANINE TRANSFERASE (ALT): a liver enzyme. An elevated level may indicate an ongoing liver problem or problem in other organs affecting the liver.
  • ALKALINE PHOSPHATASE (ALK PHOS): produced by the cells in the bile ducts of the liver and gall bladder. It also originates from bone and muscle. It can be elevated in growing puppies and kittens due to bone growth and therefore not a cause for concern in most of these patients.  In older animals, it may indicate liver disease, steroid anti-inflammatory medication use, or Cushing's syndrome.


Any patient with any health concerns, or middle aged to geriatric, should have a Health Screen 3, and perhaps other testing. This level gives us a more comprehensive and detailed look at vital organ systems.  If we find any abnormalities on a Health Screen 1 or 2, the doctor will call you and recommend expanding the testing so the results will include these additional values.

Health Screen 3 Includes:

  • Everything listed in the Health Screen 2 above and in addition:
  • ALBUMIN: the primary blood protein. Low levels indicate failure of production (liver) or loss (kidney or GI). High levels indicate dehydration.
  • GLOBULIN: derived by subtracting the albumin from the total protein. Elevated globulins can indicate immune stimulation or certain tumor types. Depressed level may suggest immunosuppression.
  • AMYLASE and LIPASE: produced primarily by the pancreas, the gland responsible for most of the digestive enzymes that break down food in the intestines. Elevations can indicate pancreatic or kidney disease.
  • CALCIUM and phosphorous: make up the main structure of bones. Elevation of blood calcium can indicate disease of the parathyroid glands or kidneys and could be an indicator of certain types of tumors. Low calcium can lead to tetanic muscle spasms.
  • PHOSPHOROUS: elevation frequently indicates kidney disease. The level of this compound is an important prognostic indicator of the state of the disease.
  • TOTAL BILIRUBIN is a normal breakdown product of blood hemoglobin and is found in bile. Bilirubin levels change with anemia, excessive red blood cell destruction, internal hemorrhage, liver failure, or bile duct disease.
  • CHOLESTEROL and TRIGLYCERIDES: levels can be elevated in a variety of disorders including genetic disease, liver and kidney disease, and hypothyroidism (dogs).
  • ELECTROLYTES: Sodium, Potassium, and Chloride are vital components for all tissue functions. Significant abnormalities in these levels can indicate life-threatening processes. Changes in their values in relation to each other and with regard to the other blood chemistry values is very important in vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and heart conditions.

Additional Testing and Sending Samples Out

As mentioned, a complete blood count with differential and blood chemistry are identical to Health Screen 3 above.  Senior patients should also have a urinalysis a part of their wellness screening at annual examinations.  If there is time during our appointment block, we will make every effort to complete Senior Wellness Testing in-house so you can have the results the same day. If we need to send these tests to our outside laboratory, often with other tests that need to be run on the same samples, we will let you know when you will receive results.  Our hospital will always telephone you with test results: good, bad, or indifferent.  This is our way of double checking that test results are always accurately relayed to owners.

Tests that are not currently available for us to run in-house are sent to veterinary laboratories specialized in handling animal samples. Test times vary and we will keep you informed of the anticipated reporting of results.