Should My Pet's Blood Samples Be Analyzed "In Office " Or Sent To A Large National Diagnostic Laboratory ?







Ron Hines DVM PhD

To see what normal blood and urine values are, go here

For an explanation of causes of most abnormal blood and urine tests, go here

To see how tests are grouped, go here

Veterinarians in most of the developed World have two options in obtaining blood chemistry values for your pet. They  can run the tests “in house” on a compact blood chemistry analyzer (like the one on the left), or they can send the blood samples out to a large veterinary diagnostic laboratory that has equipment similar to the ones on the right.

In non-emergency situations, I personally prefer that my client’s pet blood samples go to a national diagnostic laboratory (actually the two I use have offices all over the World).

The only time that is not an option is when the veterinarian and the pet need those results immediately (STAT).




The reason I prefer to send blood samples to large commercial laboratories is because I do not feel confident that my staff can maintain and operate these complex machines as well in a typical hectic veterinary hospital environment as can a large corporation focused on doing that one single thing. (There are other veterinarians who share my concerns. Inaccurate in-clinic analyzer machines can lead to inaccurate diagnoses), The AVMA has no independent quality control mechanism and veterinarians must rely on the claims of their sales force that an occasional calibration is sufficient to insure test quality. [ref1, ref2])

I also appreciate the expert feedback and interpretation of difficult reports that I have available from the superb clinical pathologists these companies keep on staff.

But in-office analyzers at your local animal hospital are extremely important when your pet is critically ill and in sudden pet emergencies when your veterinarian and pet just don't have the time to wait to get those blood results back from an off-site testing service.

The two largest veterinary testing laboratories in the USA are Antech Diagnostics of Irvine, California, a division of VCA, and Idexx Laboratories of Westbrook, Maine. The one I interact with most in the UK is Dechra (aka Nationwide Laboratories) in Leeds.

So in non-emergency situations, I suggest that you request that your pet's blood sample be sent to a national laboratory for analysis (the same thing that your physician does) rather than have CBC and most chemistry tests performed at your local animal hospital. These large labs usually have the staff and resources to insure accurate results. Read about that here.