During the course of veterinary practice it is often necessary for veterinarians to do blood work. Sometimes this will be a part of a workup for a sick animal, and in other cases veterinarians will often check blood work as a part of a preventative maintenance wellness program, particularly in adult and senior pets. Blood work is often done prior to elective or required surgery, including surgical sterilization procedures.
Blood work is important prior to general anesthesia to make sure that kidney, liver and other organ function is adequate. The CBC blood work done will look at parameters including whether a pet is anemic, has an infection, as well as whether clotting is adequate prior to the surgical procedure. Blood work also may determine glandular function of the thyroid and adrenal glands, as well as for heartworm status (prior to starting preventatives), and even whether a pet is protected against certain viral infectious diseases such as parvo virus or canine distemper (known as vaccination titers).
Exposure to tick born diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Ehrlichia may also be determined by blood work. Although many pets may be managed symptomatically for their illnesses, it is always preferable to have a diagnosis first, which is why performing blood work is so important.