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Pet Blood Tests

Little grey cat lying on an orange blanket on the couch

Have you ever heard the veterinarian say “I’ll just take a blood sample” and wondered how exactly we do this in our four-legged friends?  Well, blood sampling in dogs and cats is very similar to blood sampling in humans, with some differences.

The first difference is that unlike people, our patients do not sit still and allow us to stick needles into them.  So a nurse is required to hold the animal still, while another nurse or vet takes a blood sample.

When blood is taken from people, a vacutainer is often used, which creates suction and allows the blood to automatically fill the tubes.  However in dogs and cats, we usually find it easier to use a needle and syringe.

In our furry friends, we prefer to use the jugular vein, which is the large vein on either side of the neck.  We can also use the cephalic vein in the front legs or the saphenous veins in the back legs, but it is more difficult to get blood from these smaller veins.  In rabbits, we commonly also use veins in the ears!

In order for us to see the location of the veins clearly, it is often necessary for us to shave an area of fur over the vein, so you may notice that your pet is missing a small patch of fur after he/she has had a blood sample taken. This fur usually grows back over a few weeks.  We also usually do not apply a plaster to the area as we control any bleeding with some light pressure for a few seconds.

Pet blood tests are important as they can give us valuable information regarding the functioning of major organs, such as the liver and kidneys.  They also allow us to look at the blood cells for signs of infection, anemia and other cell abnormalities.  Blood tests can be used to check for some infectious diseases, such as heartworm, feline aids and parvovirus.

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