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How cat and dog blood tests work

Team Walmart Pets

July 8, 2021


min read

Diagnostic testing, such as blood tests, provides veterinarians with important information about how well a pet’s body is functioning internally. Blood tests are usually the vet’s first recommended step in investigating an illness or injury, and thankfully, covered by most pet insurance providers.

Let’s take a closer look at what blood tests are used for and how pet insurance helps with this necessary step to maintain your pet’s health.

What are pet blood tests for?

There are many reasons why your vet may recommend blood tests, also known as blood work. These are the most common reasons:

Preventive testing to catch illnesses before symptoms appear. That’s why it is recommended during wellness exams for pets both young and old:

  • Heartworm disease tests and tick disease tests in dogs. Click the links to learn more about each of those diseases.
  • Heartworm disease, feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) tests in cats.
  • Complete Blood Cell Count and Biochemical Profile (CBC/Chemistry) to identify hereditary and congenital conditions such as a liver shunt in young dogs and liver disease or kidney disease in older pets.
  • Thyroid level tests to screen older cats for hyperthyroidism and older dogs for hypothyroidism.

Prior to sedation or anesthesia for a medical illness or injury:

  • CBC/Chemistry and Thyroid Level Test/Thyroid Profile Test to determine a pet’s risk prior to any procedures that are performed under sedation or anesthesia.

Prior to starting a new medication or routinely for chronic medication for a medical illness or injury:

  • CBC/Chemistry to make sure a pet’s organs (liver and kidneys) work properly and predict side effects from the medication.

Diagnose medical illnesses:

  • CBC/Chemistry if your pet isn’t acting normally or exhibiting symptoms of disease or injury.
  • Serum (Blood) Allergy Testing to determine allergies to specific allergens in the environment.

Monitor common chronic medical illnesses:

  • Thyroid level tests to monitor your cat’s hyperthyroidism or your dog’s hypothyroidism while on chronic medication. Average claim cost submitted for Hyperthyroidism was $249, while Hypothyroidism was $125.*
  • Blood tests such as a blood glucose curve to monitor your diabetic pet’s response to insulin treatment. Average claim cost submitted for Diabetes Mellitus was $274.*
  • Blood tests such as the ACTH stimulation test to monitor response to treatment for a dog with Cushing’s disease. Average claim cost submitted for Cushing’s disease is $276.*
  • Blood tests such as a CBC/Chemistry to monitor the progression of kidney disease in cats. Average claim cost submitted for Kidney disease was $378.*

What’s the average cost of pet blood testing?

If your pet is sick or injured and needs a Complete Blood Cell Count and Biochemical Profile (CBC/Chemistry) this blood test on average can cost anywhere from $150 to $250.*

If a dog or cat needs allergy testing, one allergy test alone can cost anywhere from $275 to 350.**

Are blood tests covered by pet insurance?

When looking for protection for their pets, it’s important for families to know what pet insurance will cover. When it comes to blood tests, pet insurance providers will cover them as long as they are not requested for routine, preventative care or to treat pre-existing conditions. If an unexpected illness or injury (occurring after enrollment and waiting periods) causes you to take your pet to the vet, most pet insurance providers will cover the blood tests.

While pre-existing conditions and preventive care aren’t eligible for coverage, you should still consider insuring your pet. As pets age, the likelihood of medical illness and injury increases and it’s important to be prepared for the unexpected that may arise in your pet’s future – including the cost.

* According to pet insurance claims data.

** Allergy testing for your pet. UW Veterinary Care, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pet Health

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