Our In-House Laboratory

We are proud to offer an in house full laboratory, to handle all of your pets routine and diagnostic blood work.

Whether it’s pre-surgery blood work, a sick, emergency or even a wellness visit, timing counts. Being able to have critical information about your pet’s condition in minutes rather than days can make all of the difference in the outcome. That’s why in 2011 we upgraded our lab to be able to provide the latest in diagnostics in house.

Advanced In-house Laboratory

MetroPet Veterinary Clinic has an advanced in-house laboratory with the ability to perform a wide variety of diagnostics within minutes. So that if an emergency occurs, answers are available quickly. Please read on to see what is available. Our diagnostics include Heart Health Lab, Eye Health Lab , Intestinal Parasite Screenings, Blood Work including Heart Worm checks, and Digital X-Rays.

Stool Samples

Stool samples may be collected by the pet owner prior to a visit to the veterinary clinic or they may be collected by the veterinarian. A small amount of the stool sample is prepared and then examined under a microscope. In some cases, a small amount of the stool is placed in a liquid and then examined with a microscope. These steps are used to detect the presence of the cysts of various parasites such as Giardia. The eggs of other parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms, can be found in stool samples. Larval or adult worms or tapeworm segments may also be observed.

Heart Health Tools

We have a blood pressure monitor that is used for both anesthesia and blood pressure screening on pets as well as EKG and pulse oximetry monitors. These will check your pets’ blood oxygen level and heart rate as well as checking for arrythmeas or abnormal heart beats.

Opthalmology Lab

We can check your pet’s eye pressure for glaucoma or uveitis and we can check tear production or rule out corneal ulceration with our in house eye lab.

Cytology

We can look under a microscope to check for certain skin, ear, and infectious diseases.

Urine Samples

Analysis of urine samples (urinalysis) is important for detecting various types of urinary tract diseases. Because significant changes occur in urine if it is left at room or higher temperature for any length of time, the sample should be analyzed immediately after collection, or refrigerated and transported to the laboratory as soon as possible after collection. Urine samples should not, however, be frozen because freezing will change several important characteristics of the urine. The tests usually carried out on urine samples include examining the appearance, chemistry, and sediment.

Normal urine is typically yellow or amber in color and is usually transparent or clear. The presence of diseases or infections may change the color or clarity. For most pet species, normal urine has a slight odor of ammonia; however, the urine of some pets (such as cats) normally has a pungent odor. A bacterial infection of the urinary tract may produce a strong ammonia odor in the urine.

Chemical analysis of urine may include determining its specific gravity (density) and pH level and measuring the amount of protein, glucose, or fragmented blood cells, all of which can indicate disease, injury, or defects. Microscopic examination of urine sediment (the solid part of urine) is part of a routine urinalysis. Large numbers of red blood cells in urine sediment usually indicate bleeding somewhere in the urinary tract, while large numbers of white blood cells usually indicate an infection. Other solid components of urine, known as casts, are long tubular structures formed by the congealing of protein in the kidneys. Large numbers of casts may indicate kidney disease. Crystals may be present but are generally not considered to be a problem. Bacteria may be present in small numbers in normally voided urine, but large numbers indicate infection. If your veterinarian suspects a bladder infection, a sample of urine to culture for bacteria may be collected directly from the bladder using a needle and syringe. This process is called cystocentesis.

Blood Samples

Analysis of the numbers and structure of blood cells is important in the diagnosis and monitoring of disease and infection. Blood samples are usually taken by the veterinarian or a veterinary technician for analysis.

There are 3 common tests carried out using red blood cells: packed cell volume, hemoglobin concentration, and red blood cell count. All 3 are interrelated and help your veterinarian diagnose diseases. The packed cell volume is the proportion of the whole volume of blood occupied by the red blood cells. When the proportion of red blood cells is high, the condition is called polycythemia. Polycythemia is common when a pet has dehydration or diarrhea. A low packed cell volume may suggest anemia or bleeding. The hemoglobin concentration in the blood sample indicates the oxygen-carrying capacity of the red blood cells. The red blood cell count is the number of red blood cells in a unit volume of blood. The results of the tests on red blood cells can tell your veterinarian a lot about the way your pet’s body is functioning and suggest possible health problems.

There are 5 main types of white blood cells. Neutrophils are the most common type of white blood cell. They engulf (“eat”) infectious particles such as bacteria. They increase in number during inflammation, infection, and short-term stress. A related type of white blood cell is the eosinophil. The number of eosinophils goes up during allergic reactions and some tissue injuries. Their number also goes up in response to certain tumors and parasites. Basophils are the least common type of white blood cell. They are also related to neutrophils and eosinophils. An increase in the number of basophils is associated with inflammation. Monocytes are large cells that serve mainly as phagocytes and increase in number during chronic diseases. Lymphocytes are the white blood cells responsible for antibody production and cell-mediated immune responses. Large increases in the number of lymphocytes often indicates leukemia, a type of cancer.

Platelets are cell-like particles in the blood. Another name for platelets is thrombocytes. Platelets are much smaller than red or white blood cells. They perform a critical role in the clotting process to repair damaged blood vessels. Thus, injuries often prompt a large increase in number of platelets. Some autoimmune diseases, blood clotting disorders, and bone marrow problems cause a decrease in the number of platelets.

We also have the ability to check coagulation panels (to look for potential bleeding disorders or toxin ingestions right in our hospital.

Biochemistry Panel (Organs and Electrolyte Check)
Test What the Results may Mean
Total Protein Increases due to dehydration or inflammation; may decrease due to bleeding, malnutrition, or congestive heart failure
Albumin Increases due to dehydration; may decrease due to bleeding, congestive heart failure, or liver failure
Globulin Calculated as the difference between total protein and albumin
Urea Increases due to certain dietary excesses or deficiencies, congestive heart failure, kidney failure, or a ruptured bladder; decreases may be due to liver failure or low levels of dietary protein
Creatinine Increases may be due to kidney disorders, muscle damage, or a ruptured bladder
Glucose Increases may be caused by diabetes or short-term stress; decreases may be found in cases of neurologic disease or malnutrition
ALT and ALP Increases in these enzymes may indicate liver damage, muscle damage, or increased thyroid gland activity
Heartworm (4Dx Test)

Our Heartworm test price automatically includes testing for diseases carried by ticks that are common in animals such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasmosis.

The Outside Laboratory or Test Center

Many of the tests the veterinarian uses to diagnose disease require highly specialized instruments or equipment. In other cases, specific training is required for the technicians performing the tests. For these reasons, many veterinarians will either send the samples to an outside laboratory or refer the patient to a special test facility. Some of the tests conducted are similar to those available in the clinic, but the availability of advanced testing equipment in a specialized facility may offer advantages in speed and accuracy. For example, the specialized laboratory may be able to more easily spot and identify abnormally shaped red or white blood cells, both of which can help confirm a disease diagnosis, during routine tests on a blood sample.

It is important to identify the specific bacteria or other organisms causing an infection so that your veterinarian can carry out a proper treatment program. Although many microbiology tests can be performed at veterinary clinics, your veterinarian may prefer to have the samples tested at an outside laboratory that has specialized equipment and personnel with advanced training in microbiology. Your veterinarian will very carefully take a sample from a site on your pet that is typical of the disease or infection process. Samples are examined under a microscope, as well as cultured (grown on various substances) and then examined for the growth of colonies of the suspected organisms. Sometimes the bacteria have to be tested with different antibiotics to determine which one will be most effective. This takes a little longer but helps your veterinarian avoid treatment with an antibiotic that is not effective.

Last full review/revision July 2011 by Morag G. Kerr, BVMS, BSc, PhD, Cbiol, FIBiol, MRCVS; Jimmy C. Lattimer, DVM, MS, DACVR, DACVRO; John B. Malone, DVM, PhD; Karen W. Post, DVM, MS, DACVM; Susan J. Tornquist, DVM, PhD, DACVP; Trevor J. Whitbread, BSc, BVSc, MRCVS, DECVP