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Blood Chemistries Explained

These common blood serum tests evaluate organ function, electrolyte status, hormone levels and more. They are important in evaluating pets, vomiting, diarrhoea or toxin exposure, medicated pets and health before anaesthesia.

  • Na (sodium) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhoea, kidney disease and Addison's disease. This test helps indicate hydration status.

  • K (potassium) is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhoea or excessive urination. Increased levels may indicate kidney failure, Addisons' disease, dehydration or urethral obstruction. High levels can lead to a heart attack.

  • Cl (Chloride) is an electrolyte often lost with vomiting and Addison's disease. Elevations often indicate dehydration.

  • Bicarb is an indication of acid/base balance and can be changed with vomiting and other conditions.

  • BUN (blood urea nitrogen) indications kidney function. An increased level in the blood is called azotemia and can be caused by kidney, liver, heart disease, urethral obstruction, dehydration and shock.

  • CREA (creatinine) reveals kidney function. This test helps distinguish between kidney and non kidney causes of elevated BUN.

  • Ca (calcium) deviations can indicate a variety of diseases. Tumours, hyperparathyroidisn, kidney disease and low albumin are just a few of the conditions that alter serum calcium.

  • PHOS (phosphorus) elevations are often associated with kidney disease, hyperthyroidism and bleeding disorders.

  • AMYL (amylase) elevation may indicate pancreatitis or kidney disease.

  • LIP (lipase) is an enzyme that may indicate pancreatitis

  • TP (total protein) indicates hydration status and provides additional information about the liver, kidneys and infectious diseases.

  • ALB (albumin) is a serum protein that helps evaluate hydration, haemorrhage, intestinal, liver and kidney disease.

  • GLOB (globulin) is a blood protein that often increases with chronic inflammation and certain disease states, including some cancers.

  • TBIL (total bilirubin) elevations may indicate liver or haemolytic disease. This test helps identify bile duct problems and certain types of anaemia.

  • ALKP (alkaline phosphatase) elevations may indicate liver damage, Cushing's disease or active bone growth in young pets. This test is especially significant in cats.

  • ALT (alanineaminotransferase) is a sensitive indicator of active liver damage but doesn't indicate the cause.

  • GGT (gamma glutamyl transferase) is an enzyme that indicates liver disease or corticosteroid excess.

  • AST (asparate aminotransferase) increase may indicate liver, heart or muscle damage.

  • CK (creatine kinase) is an enzyme that indicates muscle damage.

  • LDH (lactic rehydrogenase) is an enzyme that can be elevated in muscle, heart and liver disease.

  • CHOL (cholesterol) is used to aid in the diagnosis of hypothyroidism, liver disease, Cushing's disease and diabetes mellitus.

  • GLU (glucose) is a blood sugar. Elevated levels may indicate diabetes mellitus. Low levels can cause collapse, seizures or coma.

  • Cortisol is a hormone that is measured in tests for Cushing's disease (low dose dexamethasone suppression test) and Addison's disease (ACTH stimulation test)

  • T4 (thyroxine) is a thyroid hormone. Decreased levels often signal hypothyroidism in dogs, while high levels may indicate hypothyroidism in cats.

The International School has a short course in clinical pathology. For more information, go to

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