Veterinary Laboratory Exams for Dogs

You’re not alone if you’ve ever felt a little overwhelmed at your dog’s annual vet visit. When your veterinarian presents you with a broad list of tests to choose from, it can be extremely distressing. You may be anxious that you would prioritize the wrong tests, missing the most important ones. And totaling everything on the list could result in a large bill. Most dog owners are ready to spend a lot of money to keep their dogs healthy, but do they have to? Whether it’s your dog’s first veterinary visit or a normal annual exam, bring a list of crucial tests that your vet should perform based on your dog’s overall health.

Clinical Chemistry

Clinical chemistry is the study of the chemical composition of a sample. The sample is usually the liquid portion of blood (serum or plasma), although other body fluids may also be studied. Clinical chemistry tests can tell you how well your organs (kidneys, liver, etc.) work. They can help diagnose certain diseases, such as diabetes and pancreatitis. These tests may also monitor your pet’s response to treatment.


The study of cell structure, origin, function, and death is known as cytology. Pathologists can provide cell information to veterinarians. Slides are produced and stained from fine-needle biopsy tissue or fluid samples to determine cell types.

Pathologists frequently identify cancerous cells and tumors (malignant). Some germs can be spotted, whereas some yeast types have a particular appearance and must be identified by microbiological testing.

Fluid Analysis

The fluid analysis investigates physiological fluids other than blood (urine, joint fluid, etc.). Body fluid analysts work with other specialists to evaluate animal health. Cells and proteins are detected in fluid analysis. It is also possible to do compound-specific clinical chemistry tests.


Hematology studies red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in health and disease. The most common blood tests are CBCs. This test assesses blood cell counts and types, as well as anemia, inflammation, and coagulation.

Anemia can be diagnosed using red blood cell count, size, shape, and hemoglobin concentration. Counting white blood cell types suggests inflammation, which an infection may cause. Platelet changes during a CBC can suggest blood clotting problems.


The microscopic anatomy of animal and plant tissues is studied in histology. Pathologists (histologists) examine microscopic tissue samples to determine their health. Pathologists investigate diseases and can frequently explain abnormal tissue structures or cells.

Small tissue samples are submitted to a pathologist if your veterinarian finds cancer or other tissue-changing illnesses. Talk to your vet or visit their website to learn more about the field of vet medicine that they are aware of. 


Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other single-celled organisms are studied in microbiology. Microbiologists in veterinary laboratories can perform several infection tests. Growing and identifying bacteria, viruses, and fungus is a common practice. Tests can be used to discover which drugs are capable of killing microorganisms.

Antibodies from a dog pharmacy and other chemicals can be used to identify germs that are difficult to culture in the lab. Bacteria can be cultured from your pet’s blood, urine, feces, nasal or pulmonary secretions, and wound or abscess swabs.


The study of blood serum and other body fluids is known as serology. Most serologic tests measure the antibody titer of an infectious microorganism. If an animal’s immune system creates antibodies against microorganisms, it has been exposed to them.

There are numerous serologic test kits available. Test kits are frequently used in-house and outside laboratories to diagnose heartworm disease, feline leukemia virus infection, Lyme disease, infectious horse anemia, and others.


Toxicology is the study of toxins and animals. If your 24 hour vet suspects your pet has been poisoned, toxicologic tests will identify the substance and its effects. Common toxins are easily identified.

A quick poison diagnosis can save your pet’s life. Samples are sometimes transferred to an independent facility that can accurately test for a broader range of poisons. If your pet ate anything harmful, your veterinarian might require a sample.


Consult your veterinarian if your dog develops strange or recurring symptoms before his routine or biannual visit. Always see your veterinarian if you notice any unusual or scary symptoms, and make sure they thoroughly explain the necessary tests and their explanation. Because you are your pet’s advocate, you must grasp the options to keep him healthy and happy from puppyhood to adulthood.