Decoding Vet Diagnostic Lab Results: A Guide for Pet Parents

When our beloved pets fall ill or require medical attention, veterinarians often rely on diagnostic laboratory tests to uncover the underlying causes of their health issues. These tests provide valuable insights into our pet’s health and guide appropriate treatment decisions. However, interpreting the results of these tests can be challenging for pet parents, who may need to become more familiar with the terminology and values used in veterinary diagnostics.

Understanding Lab Results

This guide will help decipher the common tests and results you may receive from your vet, making you a more informed and proactive partner in your pet’s healthcare journey.

The Benefits of a Routine Checkup

For any pet owner, routine checkups are crucial in maintaining their pets’ overall well-being. A cat and dog routine checkup typically includes a thorough physical exam, vaccinations, and a discussion regarding your pet’s health and lifestyle. Additionally, your veterinarian may recommend various diagnostic tests during these checkups to get a clearer picture of your dog’s health.

Even if your pet seems healthy, it’s essential to maintain regular vet visits. These checkups can help uncover underlying issues, allowing your veterinarian to address them early and provide the best care for your furry companion.

Breaking Down Common Diagnostic Lab Tests

When you receive lab results from your vet, it can be overwhelming. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common tests you may encounter to help you better understand your pet’s health:

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

A CBC is a standard test that evaluates your pet’s overall health and checks for various disorders, such as anemia, infection, and inflammation. A CBC measures the following components:

  • Red Blood Cells (RBC) – Carry oxygen throughout the body.
  • White Blood Cells (WBC) – Fight infections.
  • Platelets – Assist in blood clotting.
  • Hemoglobin – Oxygen-carrying component within red blood cells.

Blood Chemistry Panel

A blood chemistry panel assesses your pet’s organ function and electrolyte levels. This test provides vital information about the liver, kidneys, pancreas, and overall metabolic health. The panel typically includes:

  • Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) – Liver enzyme.
  • Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) – Kidney function indicator.
  • Creatinine – Another kidney function indicator.
  • Glucose – Blood sugar level.
  • Albumin – Protein found in the blood plasma.


A urinalysis for pets is a complete analysis of your pet’s urine. This test provides valuable information regarding kidney function, hydration status, and potential infections or diseases. A urinalysis typically evaluates the following aspects:

  • Color and appearance – Indicators of hydration and possible infections.
  • Specific gravity – Measures the urine concentration, relating to the kidneys’ ability to concentrate or dilute urine.
  • Protein, glucose, and red and white blood cells – Detects potential issues such as diabetes, infection, or inflammation.

Parasite Screening

Routine parasite screening is essential for your pet’s health, as these pests can cause severe health complications if left untreated. Some common parasite screenings include:

  • Heartworm test – Checks for heartworm infection.
  • Fecal exam – Evaluate your pet’s stool for intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms.

Special Considerations for Senior Pet Care

As your pet ages, keeping a closer eye on their health and adjusting their care accordingly is essential. Older pets may require more frequent visits to the vet, as well as additional diagnostic tests to monitor their health. Your veterinarian can guide you through the necessary steps and answer any questions. To learn more about senior pet care, don’t hesitate to click here.


Understanding the various diagnostic lab tests run on your pet can help you play a more active role in their healthcare journey. Familiarizing yourself with the tests mentioned above, scheduling regular pet wellness exams, prioritizing senior pet care, and staying informed about the processes at a veterinary diagnostic lab are all ways to ensure your pet lives a long, happy, and healthy life.