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Understanding Your Pet's CBC Blood Test

Aug 11, 2008
When you take your pet to the veterinarian for a regular check up or if you are concerned that your pet may be ill, the vet will likely perform a CBC. A CBC, or complete blood count, is used to evaluate the cells that circulate through your pet's blood. With the help of this test, your vet can find the first indication that your pet may be ill or in need of medical care in some way.

What is the CBC?

The CBC test actually takes a count of both the red and white blood cells in your pet's blood. With the help of the CBC test, which requires taking a blood sample and performing what is called a "blood smear," the vet can check for signs of illness. Having a low red blood count, for example, could be a sign that your pet is suffering from anemia. A high white blood count, on the other hand, is a sign of infection. Odd blood counts can also indicate inflammation as well as an immune system disease.

Why is a CBC Performed?

A CBC may be performed as a part of your routine health screening in order to make certain your pet is healthy. It may also be performed before undergoing anesthesia in order to be certain your pet is healthy enough for the procedure.

Even if your pet appears healthy and is not about to undergo anesthesia, a CBC can catch a problem in its early stages so it can be treated immediately. The earlier a disease is caught, the greater the probability of successful treatment.

A CBC may also be performed if your pet has recently experienced trauma or appears to be sickly in any way. With the help of the CBC, the veterinarian can better pinpoint the problem, which can range from a simple infection to something more complicated. Certain types of cancers, for example, can be identified with the help of a CBC. This is particularly true of leukemia, which can sometimes be identified with a simple blood smear.

Depending upon the results of the CBC, the veterinarian may recommend a diagnostics test. A diagnostics test is a test that looks for traits related to a specific disease that the veterinarian suspects after reviewing the CBC.

How is a CBC Performed?

In order to perform a CBC, your vet or your vet tech will need to sterilize a needle and then look for a superficial vein from which blood can be drawn. He or she will then wet your pet's fur with alcohol and may snip away some hair in order to better locate the vein. With the vein properly located, he or she can then insert the needle and draw out some blood. While this certainly isn't a painless procedure for your pet, it is the same as drawing blood from a human. Therefore, most pets tolerate it quite well and suffer no harmful affects.

The blood is then placed into a special tube with an anti-coagulant that prevents the blood from clotting. The blood is then passed through a machine that is able determine the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Then, a drop of blood is placed on a slide and examined under a microscope. Here, the machine's diagnosis is confirmed and any abnormalities in the cells are identified.
About the Author
CS Swarens is the president of Find a Pet Online. 800 998-7065 For additional information on dogs, cats, birds, horses, and exotic pets visit the internet's pet resource including pet classifieds at http://www.findapetonline.com. Research over 430 pet breed profiles at http://www.findapetonline.com/breeds.html
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