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Understanding Blood Work: The Biochemical Profile for Dogs

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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Blood work is a very important diagnostic tool that provides a significant amount of information about your pet's health. A biochemical profile is a blood test that assesses the function of internal organs, measures the electrolytes such as blood potassium, and identifies the levels of circulating enzymes. Understanding the biochemical profile can be difficult but reveals a wealth of information.

Sample

Twenty of the most common tests are listed. Normal values are listed in parentheses and vary from lab to lab and those listed should not be considered universal.

Glucose..........................117 mcg/dl...(80-120)
BUN (blood urea nitrogen)........24 mg/dl...(8-29)
Creatinine.........................0.8 mg/dl...(0.4-1.2)
Sodium (Na)......................140 mEq/l...(139-164)
Potassium (K)....................5.2 mEq/l...(4.4-6.1)
Chloride.........................104 mEq/l...(10-118)
CO2 (carbon dioxide).............22 mEq/l...(22-285)
Calcium............................9.6 mg/dl...(9.4-11.6)
Phosphorus.......................5.6 mg/dl...(2.5-6.2)
Total Protein (TP)...............6.3 gm/dl...(5.8-8.1)
Albumin..........................2.9 gm/dl...(2.6-4)
Bilirubin........................0.6 mg/dl...(0.2-0.7)
Cholesterol......................204 mg/dl...(129-330)
Triglyceride.....................82 mg/dl...(36-135)
ALKP (alkaline phosphatase)......65 U/l...(20-70)
AST (asparate aminotransferase)..30 U/l...(14-42)
ALT (alanine aminotransferase)...45 U/l...(15-52)
GGT (gamma-glutamyl transferase).5 U/l...(1-12)
Amylase..........................850 U/l...(280-950)
CK (creatine kinase).............47 U/l...(0-130)

What Does It All Mean?

Glucose is the end product of carbohydrate metabolism and is the primary source of energy for the body. High levels indicate stress, Cushing's disease, diabetes, pancreatitis or can be due to certain medications. Low levels can indicate liver disease, insulin overdose, severe bacterial infection, hypothyroidism and Addison's disease. Toy breed puppies are prone to low blood glucose for unknown reasons.

BUN stands for blood urea nitrogen and is the primary end product of protein metabolism. High levels indicate kidney failure or disease, dehydration, shock, high protein diet, certain toxin ingestions, poor circulation to the kidneys and urinary obstruction. Low levels indicate liver disease or starvation.

Creatinine is the end product of phosphocreatine metabolism, which is important in muscle contractions. High levels indicate kidney failure or disease, dehydration, shock, certain toxin ingestions, poor circulation to the kidneys and urinary obstruction. Low levels indicate liver disease or starvation.

Sodium works in combination with potassium and is very important in maintaining normal function of muscle and nerves. It is also an important electrolyte in every part of the body. High levels indicate dehydration, lack of water, diabetes insipidus, Cushing's and excess salt intake. Low levels indicate starvation, severe diarrhea, vomiting, Addison's disease, hypothyroidism and metabolic acidosis.

Potassium works in combination with sodium and is very important in maintaining normal function of muscle and nerves. High levels indicate diabetes, certain toxin ingestions, urinary obstruction, acute kidney failure, severe muscle damage and Addison's disease. Low levels indicate vomiting and diarrhea, gastrointestinal cancer, insulin overdose, Cushing's disease, overuse of diuretics and starvation.


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