We do not pretend that after reading this article we become specialists in diagnosis, far from it! With the data that we present below we want to show the weapons that professionals have to identify the possible causes of disease, but we must bear in mind that these data without the general knowledge of veterinarians are incomplete.
We will refer to the most significant tests that can provide us with direct data for their interpretation.
- Hematocrit: measures all the cellular elements of the blood (leukocytes, platelets, red blood cells…)
Depending on the result, it will guide us, among other problems, to the presence of anemia of varying degrees.
- Hemoglobin: Hemoglobin (Hb) is the pigment responsible for transporting oxygen to the body.
- Leukocytes: a leukocyte is any white blood cell: neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, monocytes… The total leukocyte count is therefore equal to the count of all white blood cells.
The increase in leukocytes is called Leukocytosis that can occur physiologically after exercise, stress and digestion. Among the pathological causes are infections, hemorrhages, poisoning, leukemia, trauma…
The decrease in leukocytes is called Leukopenia and occurs in severe inflammation and bone marrow diseases, among other pathologies.
- Lymphocytes: Lymphocytes are a mixed population of B and T cells. They are the main component of immunity in the body. B lymphocytes synthesize the antibodies responsible for humoral immunity, and T lymphocytes are the main ones responsible for cellular immunity.
The increase in the number of lymphocytes is called Lymphocytosis and occurs in chronic inflammation, infections, some leukemias and certain hormonal alterations.
The decrease in the number of lymphocytes is called Lymphopenia, and occurs in stressful situations, after the use of corticosteroids, due to the action of certain viruses…
- Monocytes: their main function is the phagocytosis (“destruction”) of foreign particles, cell debris and pathogens. They are the “sweepers” of the immune system.
The decrease in the number of monocytes is rare and has no diagnostic significance.
The increase in the number of monocytes is called Monocytosis and occurs in stress, necrosis, chronic inflammation…
- Eosinophils: Eosinophils are leukocytes with multiple functions: they destroy parasites, participate in the regulation of allergic reactions, have a certain phagocytic capacity against bacteria…
The increase in the number of eosinophils is called Eosinophilia and occurs in cases of allergy, parasitosis, inflammation and certain hormonal alterations.
The decrease in the number of eosinophils is called Eosinopenia and occurs in cases of stress, after the administration of corticosteroids and in certain hormonal alterations.
- Basophils: Basophils make their appearance in the blood for a wide variety of diseases. The appearance of basophils occurs, among others, in cases of thrombi due to heartworms, in hyperlipidemia problems…
In the case of blood biochemistry tests, we will also refer to the main tests and their meanings.
- ALT: Alanine aminotransferase is present in large amounts in the cytoplasm of liver cells in the dog. This enzyme will appear in the blood when hepatocytes (liver cells) are damaged or destroyed. It will be a good indicator of active, recent or ongoing liver damage.
- Amylase: in inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), necrosis or occlusion of the pancreatic duct causes the release of amylase into the blood, increasing normal levels. If there is an increase in values and associated abdominal pain, we may be facing acute pancreatitis.
- Alkaline phosphatase (AP): Alkaline phosphatase is present in both liver and bone tissue. An increase from normal values indicates liver problems and excessive administration of corticosteroids among others. Increases in bone growth are also observed.
- Creatine phosphokinase (CPK): Increased creatine phosphokinase occurs after muscle trauma, muscle inflammation (myositis) and occasionally in central nervous system disorders.
- Gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT): This enzyme indicates alterations of the biliary portal system. It increases in cholestatic hepatopathies and in excess of cortisol.
- Bilirubin: derives from the catabolism (destruction) of hemoglobin. Elevated levels suggest liver disease and hemolytic diseases.
- Creatinine: is a product of muscle metabolism. It is a good indicator of alterations in renal function.
- Glucose: A marked and persistent increase in glucose (hyperglycemia) in the dog is usually due to diabetes mellitus or stress. Low blood glucose (hypoglycemia) is usually due to pancreatic tumors, malnutrition, shock, and exertion. The most common cause of low glucose values is improper handling of blood samples.