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Should I Take My Pet In For A Blood Test? Pet blood tests in Malaysia 101

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Find yourself googling ‘dog blood test near me’ recently? You’ve come to the right place. 

Here’s everything you need to know about getting a dog blood test or a cat blood test here in Malaysia. How to prepare for it, what tests are needed, where you can get it and how much it will cost. We’ve got you covered!

What is a pet blood test?

A dog blood test or a cat blood test is similar to a human blood test. Your vet will recommend a routine or special blood test for your pet depending on the presenting symptoms, and you will need to prepare for it appropriately.

A blood test entails taking a sample of blood from your pet. It’s helpful if you’re in the room with your pet to keep it calm. A familiar face is always comforting.

Your vet will identify a vein on your pet, usually on its legs, to which a small needle is inserted, and blood is withdrawn. Your highly skilled vet will distract your pet, and it will hardly feel any discomfort during the procedure.

If you’re squeamish with blood, look away and pet your furbaby or call out reassuringly till the procedure is completed. It will usually get a treat after a job well done. You can ask for one too! 

Are all pet blood tests the same?

No. Dog and cat blood tests, in particular, can be grouped into routine blood tests and special blood tests.

A routine blood test includes a complete blood count (CBC), serum biochemistry, and it might include kidney and liver function tests as well. 

They provide a general overview of your pet’s health and can be done in totally healthy as well as recently ill pets. They are done at regular vet visits and don’t require much preparation beforehand.

A blood test in isolation may not provide enough information. Your vet will usually conduct a thorough physical examination as well. 

Blood testing for cats and dogs helps your veterinarian diagnose and treat various conditions from parasites, allergies and diabetes to liver, kidney and pancreatic issues. 

If your pet is obese, your vet might recommend a fasting lipid profile. Your pet would need to fast for a few hours, so it's best to visit the vet first thing in the morning for this test. 

This is also the case if your vet looks to check for diabetes. Fasting glucose tests are also done on an empty stomach.

If your pet has been unwell for a while and has been on medications, your vet might ask for a test to gauge medication levels in your pet’s blood. They do this to check if your dog/cat is getting the right dose and if the medication is working. 

In this instance, your vet will instruct you to have the test done at a very specific date/time. For example, an antibiotic drug level test is done specifically after six or ten doses.

Why is it important to prepare appropriately for a dog/cat blood test?

Proper preparation helps ensure that the test results are reliable and accurate. They will help your vet make a correct diagnosis and offer the best treatment options for your furbaby. 

Sometimes, your vet will be able to tell if your pet hasn’t been prepared adequately and might have you repeat the test. 

So to avoid time and cost wastage, prepare your pet adequately before a blood test or any veterinary procedure for that matter.

How do I prepare my pet for a dog/cat blood test?

There are a few things you should do in preparation for a routine vet visit, regardless of whether your pet is getting a dog/cat blood test.

  1. Gentle fasting, which means fasting for up to 6 hours before the appointment, helps keep your pet’s blood free of fat droplets, which might interfere with certain blood results. It also helps prevent vomiting if your pet is in for a procedure or due to receive any medications/vaccinations.
  2. Always keep water available, especially with the hot and humid conditions in Malaysia. Dehydration might skew the test results ever so slightly. 
  3. Avoid too much exercise and active play before your vet appointment. Toxins released into the blood might alter your pet’s blood results.
  4. If you have an anxious pet who fears visits to the vet, try these simple tricks to keep your furbaby calm and happy:
  • For dogs, keep them on a leash at all times. Keep them occupied with calming words and with treats ready on hand.
  • Cats should be brought in a cat carrier with a blanket or toy that smells like home. This helps prevent it from trying to flee.
  • If you find the waiting room at your vet’s too crowded with other pets, ask so that you can wait in your car and be called when it’s your furbaby’s turn to see the vet.

How long does a dog/cat blood test take?

As mentioned above, the procedure takes no more than a few minutes for a skilled vet. Routine dog/cat blood tests are usually scheduled with a vaccination appointment or a regular medical visit. 

Routine bloodwork takes about a few minutes to return the results as most vets have these machines in their surgery/clinic. These include complete/full blood counts (CBC/FBC) and serum biochemistry. Urine tests can also be returned within a short period.

Special tests need to be sent out to a lab to be run, and their reports could take around 2-3 business days to return.

How much does it cost to do a dog/cat blood test?

Routine blood tests like a Complete Blood Count (CBC) would cost anywhere between RM30 and RM80 depending on the type of machine your vet uses. Serum biochemistry costs between RM150 and RM200. In general, tests run in the clinic/surgery tend to cost more than those sent out to the lab, as the return time is much quicker.

The cost of special tests varies depending on the type of test and which labs they have to be sent to.

How do I understand my pet's blood diagnostic test results?

It’s always best to get the proper and correct analysis of your pet’s blood results from your vet. Many tests need to be interpreted with context, and what might seem high or low on the report may not be significant after all. So fret not; your vet will put all your doubts and worries at ease with a quick consultation.

Many test reports aren’t interpreted in isolation and must be supported by a thorough physical examination before any diagnosis is made, be it anaemia, diabetes or even cancer.

So don’t break down in tears when the first thing that pops up on a search engine for a headache is a brain tumour!

Briefly, a complete blood count (CBC) quantifies white blood cells (WBC), red blood cells (RBC) and haemoglobin (Hb) as well as platelet levels. High WBC levels indicate an infection, while low WBCs could be immunosuppression.

Low RBC and Hb levels indicate anaemia or could be a sign of chronic bleeding. Low platelet levels could indicate a viral infection or poor blood clotting in your pet.

A routine serum biochemistry test checks for electrolyte levels in your pet’s blood. This test is usually done along with a urine test to check for signs of dehydration and an imbalanced diet.

The test also includes a renal (kidney) function test to check if there is any kidney damage due to improper food or dehydration.

Additional tests your vet could order include liver enzymes, endocrine hormonal levels, and a stool sample.

When should I take my dog/cat to the vet for a blood test?

When your dog is ill, and it doesn’t seem like the diagnosis is obvious, your vet will require blood work to help formulate a diagnosis.

Symptoms like persistent fever, lethargy or poor food intake, sudden weight loss or loss of fur, vomiting, and diarrhoea will prompt your vet to order blood work.

Blood tests are also usually done routinely before any scheduled surgical procedure to ensure all is well before going under the scalpel.

As prevention is always better than cure, routine blood work is usually part of your dog/cat’s annual check-up at most vet clinics. Senior dogs (above 8) and cats (above 11) could require blood tests every six months or at your vet’s discretion.

What is a titre test, and should I get one for my dog/cat?

A titre test is a blood test that checks for levels of antibodies against a particular bacteria/virus. It is used to check the effectiveness of vaccines and, in some cases, is used to determine if additional boosters are required.

Vets do not routinely carry out titre tests. They are sometimes required when a pet presents with symptoms of a disease even after it has been completely vaccinated. It can also determine the requirements for vaccinating pets with unknown vaccine status or when pets arrive from abroad with varying vaccination requirements.

Your vet will probably tell you that titre tests aren’t 100% reliable, with false positives and false negatives relatively high.

Well, that’s everything you need to know about getting a blood test for your pet. Always consult your trusted vet for more details about the need for a blood test and preparing for one, as well as how to interpret the results.

Lastly, if you would like to visit your nearest vet for a dog blood test or cat blood test, check out our list of vet clinics here:

While pet blood test is not covered by our pet insurance in Malaysia (as with any pet insurance plan), it is recommended to get one as well.

If in the event the blood test result discovered an underlying pet illness, pet insurance will definitely come in handy to help you cover some of the cost.