Labwork, Complete Blood Count

Complete Blood Count

By Dr. Karen Burgess

What is a CBC (complete blood count)?
A CBC quantifies the number of red and white blood cells and platelets a pet has. It also describes the cells qualities including how they physically look (ex. too small, too large)

What are red blood cells and what tests are done on them?
Red blood cells make up almost half of the blood’s volume. They give blood its red color and contain hemoglobin which is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to all of the cells in the body. Common tests performed include:

  • RBC (red blood cell count), HCT (hematocrit), Hgb (hemoglobin)-measures red blood cell mass and quantity. A decrease in these counts would be suggestive anemia, a potentially serious medical problem.
  • MCV, MCH, MCHC, RDW– Measurement of red blood cell size. The size of the red blood cells can give clues about specific disease processes.
  • Retic– Quantification of reticulocytes or immature red blood cells. Helps determine whether the bone marrow is working properly.

What are white blood cells and what tests are done on them?
There are five types of white blood cells. These cells respond to bacteria, viruses, and foreign material in the body. White blood cell types include:

  • Neutrophils– most common white blood cell, typically fight bacterial infections. Can also be elevated with stress.
  • Lymphocytes– components of immune system.
  • Monocytes– are involved with damaged tissue typically.
  • Eosinophils– often involved with parasitic and allergic disease.
  • Basophils– also related to parasitic and allergic disease, uncommon.

What are platelets and what tests are done on them?
Platelets are the body’s first line of defense in the body’s clotting process. Low platelet counts can be indicative of potentially life threatening bleeding problems in a pet.