Diagnostic Tests: Complete Blood Count (CBC)

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Treatment Type: Diagnostic Procedures
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Diagnostic Tests: Complete Blood Count (CBC) | Dog Owner Ratings | RightPet

The Complete Blood Count (CBC) is one of the fundamental lab tests used to determine canine health. In any dog health condition that has inflammation (cancer, major injuries, infections) a CBC gives valuable information about how severely affected the dog's body its. It is a simple test that only requires a small blood sample which can usually be easily obtained.

The CBC provides data on three components of blood:

1) red blood cells (erythrocytes)

2) white blood cells (leukocytes)

3) platelets (thrombocytes)

Here is a list of some of the most common canine conditions where a complete blood count (CBC) is used as a diagnostic tool.

In autoimmune hemolytic anemia, the body attacks and kills it's own red blood cells. Affected dogs become very anemic, weak, and pale. In many cases, hemolytic anemia is an emergency and requires aggressive treatment. A complete blood count is the first step in diagnosis. It will reveal a profound decrease in red blood cell numbers. The CBC will also detect the presence of abnormal or immature red blood cells, which are released from the bone marrow early in response the severe anemia. While other tests are often performed to confirm the diagnosis, the results of a CBC are often enough for the veterinarian to institute emergency treatments.


A CBC is a very important part of the diagnosis and monitoring treatment in dogs with Babesiosis. Babesiosis is spread by ticks and is very serious.

The CBC will identify how severe the infection is for a patient with pyometra. The concern for sepsis is higher in these cases and a CBC will give that information to ensure your pet is being treated appropriately.


The CBC will monitor the bone marrow status in a patient with Parvovirus. This is monitored daily in patients hospitalized for Parvovirus. The collection is fairly straight-forward and will be taken care of by the veterinary staff.

Rat Poison (Rodenticides)

Unless you've seen your dog eating rat poison, diagnosing this particular intoxication isn't as straightforward as it may seem and requires some testing, including CBC. While CBC can't point directly at the diagnosis of anticoagulant rodenticide intoxication, it provides a vet with invaluable information regarding the severity of the problem. Red blood cell count is what interests a vet the most because external symptoms of the intoxication can be mild, while the dog is bleeding extensively into the abdominal cavity, thoracic cavity, intestines or some other "cavity" that's not readily visible.

Sepsis (Septicemia)

A CBC will be part of making the sepsis diagnosis and will be important for monitoring the severity of the disease. Two common findings will be anemia and low white counts. This test is run off a small blood sample that is generally easily obtained from your pet. In septic patients a central line through which blood samples can be drawn is often put in. The CBC will generally be repeated to monitor the patient's progress.

Senior Dog Wellness

A CBC is part of the baseline lab work typically recommended for all senior dogs. Having a CBC as a baseline test, allows a vet to identify blood changes before they become a major problem. CBC is a great screening option looking for early stages of illness in a dog that is apparently clinically healthy. This will identify mild anemia, chronic inflammation.

Twisted Spleen (Splenic Torsion)

The spleen is a very vascular organ and when it is traumatized can bleed heavily. Patients with splenic disease are often anemic to the point of requiring a blood transfusion in order to proceed to surgery safely. Additionally evaluation of the white count helps to assess the severity of inflammation occurring in the body.

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