Northwest Veterinary Hospital

3817 Dry Creek Dr
Austin, TX 78731



Why do pets need regular blood and urine testing?

Firstly, our pets can't speak, they cannot tell us if they feel unwell. We recommend an annual exam as well routine screening tests to detect any health problems before it gets out of hand. You may have heard the rough adage of 1 year for us is like 7 in "dog years". The number may not be accurate for your pet, but the idea is sound that alot can happen in one year of our pet's lives.

Secondly, pets will often mask signs of illness. This stems from survival instincts in a pack or colony situation. This is especially true of cats, who have a lower activity level making it hard to notice any abnormal changes.

We use 7 years of age as a benchmark between adult and senior pet. Results from one test cannot give us a whole picture of your pet's health. That's why we recommend regular testing so we have "baseline" numbers to compare to over time, giving a more accurate diagnosis. Only 1 milliliter of blood, or about 1/5 of a teaspoon, is needed for all of these blood tests. For most appointments, the bloodwork is done right in our clinic while you wait, usually about 15 minutes to finish. We believe the following tests give us the best chance of helping your pets live longer, healthier lives.

Wellness Care and Senior Care Work-up includes a CBC, 12 different body chemistries, thyroid check and a urinalysis.

CBC or Complete Blood Count checks for red and white blood cell numbers, as well as platelets. We only need to draw 1 milileter of blood, or about 1/5 of a teaspoon. The method for determining red blood cell count or "value" is by hematacrit, or packed cell volume. Like humans, if the red blood cells are low, it could mean anemia. Too high, and the pet may be dehydrated, in shock, or other problems.

White blood cells, also called leukocytes, help defend the body against bacteria, viruses and fungi. If this number is elevated, it could mean there is an infection or the body is stressed by metabolic toxins. There are 5 different types of  WBCs, and each one has an important function. If one of them is elevated, this can help your doctor determine the cause of the problem.

Platelets assist in clot formation. If this number is low, it could mean a large amount of them is being used to heal a cut comewhere in the body and the cause should be investigated.

Blood Chemistries include 12 different tests for internal organ screening. Some of these are:

liver kidney pancreas electrolytes proteins hormones
Alkaline Phosphatase
Total Bilirubin
BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen)
Blood Glucose
Total Protein

Thyroid or T-4 Test helps determine the function of the thyroid gland, located at the larynx, or "Adam's apple" in your pet's throat. Dogs are prone to hypothyroidism, where there not enough hormones circulating. Cats are more prone to hyperthyroidism, where there are too many hormones. Either of these diseases can cause a myriad of symptoms, and can make a pet very ill. The good news is that many pets can have the symptoms controlled by medication and regular monitoring.

 Urinalysis has 3 parts: Looking at a urine specimen under the microscope, using specially coated test strips, and viewing the sample through a refractometer. Urine samples may be collected as a "free catch" when the pet is voiding or by using a catheter or a needle inserted directly into the bladder. The last two methods are much better if an infection is suspected, because the sample collected is sterile and any bacteria cultured from it is likely to be the culprit. This is alo the most stressful for the pet, however. Refractometer

The urine is also spun in a centrifuge and the cells collected and examined. The presence of red blood cells or white blood cells may indicate infections or damage to the urinary tract. Crystals suggest stone formation. Bacteria can indicate infection, in which case the sample may also be cultured to look for bacterial infections.

You save 25% by having all this done at once, versus individually. We often hear about how expensive this kind of lab test is compared to what a human doctor charges. Don't forget - human health care insurance has driven prices down over years of competitive pricing for routine services. Veterinary clinics don't benefit from such competition.


Use the age chart below to find your pets age in "people" years.These are approximations and may vary by gender, species and breed.