Have you ever wondered what the normal values for the blood chemistry elements for dogs and cats are? Well, “normal” is actually quite relative. Every veterinary diagnostic lab and “in clinic” laboratory equipment will have its own set of calibrated values that are considered “normal”. So as to be expected, the “normal values” will vary.
What is the Blood Chemistry Panel?
The blood chemistry panel is a vital tool in the diagnosis of cat and dog diseases. An important part of a thorough evaluation, most animal hospitals have provisions pertaining to evaluating blood chemistry values for cats and dogs possibly either on site or by use of a local veterinary diagnostic laboratory. Newer instrumentation and processes for evaluating blood chemistry make the use of the information gained at a blood chemistry panel a standard of practice.
A variety of different metabolic parameters can be evaluated. The health status of the pet can be assured by these evaluations when tied in with other diagnostic entities such as urine analysis, X-rays, physical exam and patient history.
Feline and canine patients today have a distinctive advantage over patients a few decades ago. There was limited and simple tests for blood chemistry components available then.
Many veterinary clinics today have “in house” blood chemistry analyzers that provide a wide variety of information within just a few minutes. Clinics that don’t have an “in house” blood chemistry analyzer rely on local veterinary laboratories that will pick up blood samples and send the results back the same day via fax or phone. This veterinary practice was merely a dream a few years ago, but today routine blood chemistry evaluations are a standard practice in every clinic.
The Chemistry Panel
First, the patient’s blood is drawn and the sample is allowed to clot. Then they extract the clear fluid — without the fibrin, red and white blood cells or platelets. What’s left is called serum and this is what is evaluated for chemicals circulating in the patient’s blood. The analyzing instrument calculates the amount of these chemicals, which is then generated into a printout version of the patient’s value compared to “normal” values.
Once this data is in the doctor’s possession, he or she will evaluate the results and treat the patient accordingly. The doctor shouldn’t decide solely based off what’s in the data. It depends on the patient as to whether it is really sick or if it’s just a circumstantial situation. For example, if the cat or dog can be dehydrated simply because the owners forgot to provide fresh water the previous 18 hours and not necessarily because of a hormonal imbalance or dysfunctional kidneys.
If you ever find yourself at the vet with a sick pet, always be proactive and ask your doctor if having a blood chemistry evaluation done would be helpful. In the long run, this can be very beneficial for the health of your pet.