How Much Does Dog Blood Work Cost?

How Much Does Dog Blood Work Cost

Whether your dog visits the vet for a routine wellness exam or an unexpected illness, you’ll probably end up paying for blood work. Blood testing is a popular diagnostic tool because the results offer a comprehensive look into your dog’s overall health

You’ll do anything to ensure your pet’s health and happiness, but it’s still helpful to understand how much dog blood work costs so you can budget ahead of time. Your dog can’t tell you exactly what’s wrong, so blood work helps uncover possible infections, illnesses, or bodily malfunctions – especially those we can’t outwardly see. 

We’ll help you understand the average costs associated with different types of blood work, as well as how these tests can benefit your dog’s health. In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • What dog blood work costs
  • Why dog blood testing is expensive
  • What dog blood work shows us
  • Whether pet insurance covers dog blood work

Breakdown: Dog Blood Work Costs 

On average, routine blood work for your dog will cost between $100-$200. Routine tests include a complete blood count (CBC) and blood chemistry analysis. For reference, an animal hospital in Winston-Salem, NC, provided a $145 quote for basic testing.

When breaking down the costs of your dog’s blood work, consider the reason for the testing and the possibility of additional fees. For example, if blood work is required at your dog’s annual physical examination, you might pay $150 for blood work, $50 for parasite testing, and another $50 for the examination fee. You also need to account for the costs of routine vaccinations and preventative medications.

If your dog is exhibiting symptoms of illness, the vet might opt to run more blood tests. Additional tests like urinalysis, fecal exams, and thyroid panels can each tack on $50-$100 to your vet bill

As fellow pet owners, we suggest discussing what tests are being done and how much they’ll cost at the beginning of every appointment. You’ll better understand how your dog is being tested and hopefully avoid any surprises once the bill comes.

Typical Costs & Factors

Typical factors that can affect the cost of dog blood testing include: 

Age – When you get a puppy, the vet will need to run initial blood tests to look for any genetic disorders. Procedures to spay or neuter your puppy will also require blood testing. On the other end of the age spectrum, older dogs need routine blood work to uncover any health problems that often develop with age, such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Keep in mind that a geriatric screening may cost more than a normal exam.

Breed – Some breeds are at higher risk of certain issues than others. For example, German Shepherds and Bull Terriers are prone to kidney disease, which increases their chance of needing specialized blood testing.

Health – Dogs with health issues will need blood testing to diagnose, treat, and monitor different metrics. If your dog is a higher-risk patient, you can expect to spend more on frequent and specialized blood work.

Preparation – To avoid the costs of retesting, make sure your dog follows blood work preparation guidelines before its appointment. Your dog should avoid eating for about six hours before routine blood work. Food in your dog’s system could alter test results. Make sure your dog is hydrated before and after blood work. Dehydration during a blood test could falsely indicate a health problem.

Location – With any veterinary service, the cost will vary based on your location. For example, a basic blood panel in North Carolina costs around $145, as opposed to $185 in California. We will provide estimates for different geographic locations, but your best bet is to always check prices with your dog’s specific pet care provider. If you move often or are looking for consistent pricing options, a veterinary care chain might be a good option.

Minimum Costs Associated

The minimum costs associated with dog blood testing will be those for routine tests. These tests are performed yearly and can be expected for any pet. Routine tests provide vets an overall picture of your dog’s health, as well as baseline data to refer back to if your animal gets sick. 

Routine blood work, which typically includes a complete blood count test and blood chemistry analysis, costs $100-$200 on average. We’ll explain CBC tests and blood chemistry analyses more below to help you understand what your dog is being tested for.

Your pet will also require blood work if it’s going in for surgery. Before sedating your pet, the vet needs an understanding of any health problems that could interfere with anesthesia. For example, it is crucial that the vet knows of any blood clotting issues before operating on your dog.

Pre-op blood work costs may vary from routine blood work costs. Pre-op testing doesn’t necessarily cost more than routine testing, but it will vary by provider.

For example, a vet clinic in Los Angeles charges $185 for a basic CBC/blood chemistry panel and $155 for preoperative blood screening. Another clinic in Boise, Idaho, charges $110 for a basic panel and $104-$184 for pre-op tests. Your best bet to determine specific price differences is to ask your vet ahead of time.

The vet will most likely run blood work at your dog’s yearly wellness exam. To give you a better idea of how much you might actually pay in addition to routine blood testing, we’ve compiled some sample costs associated with canine wellness checkups:

Service

Price

Wellness Exam

$70

Rabies Vaccine

$21

DAPP Vaccine

$31

Distemper Vaccine

$31

Heartworm Test

$38

Fecal Exam

$44

These prices, in addition to those for basic blood work, reflect typical minimum costs. Remember that pricing for specific services varies by location and provider, so your costs could be higher or lower depending on these factors.

Maximum Costs Associated

Along with routine blood work or pre-op panels, the vet might run tests to analyze specific hormone levels, confirm heartworm status, or diagnose an infection. 

This vet clinic in Los Angeles offers blood testing options in addition to its $185 basic CBC/blood chemistry panel. Below are the prices of common additional tests:

Test

Price

Thyroid Panel

$160-$185

Canine Parvo Test

$75

Phenobarb Levels

$110-$275

Blood testing is also done when your pet has a specific health problem that needs to be diagnosed or monitored. Special testing is often more expensive because it involves more comprehensive metrics than your average blood panel. For example, if your dog’s routine CBC comes back with high lymphocyte levels, the vet will need to run extensive testing for leukemia or lymphoma. The vet can also run a blood allergy test to look for antibodies against certain allergens. A comprehensive allergy panel can cost up to $315, so check with your dog’s vet to see if this service is necessary.

We also want to mention that if your dog has an ongoing health issue that needs monitoring, you’ll have to pay for more frequent testing. Let’s say your pup’s routine blood test costs $200 and comes back with abnormal hormone levels. The vet calls for a $150 thyroid blood panel to further investigate the issue. 

The tests come back and show your dog has hypothyroidism, so the vet prescribes hormone replacement medication that will treat the condition. However, monthly thyroid testing is needed for the first six months to ensure the medication is working and hormone levels are returning to normal. In this scenario, you have paid $1,250 in blood tests over the course of several months.

This example might seem extreme, but it helps illustrate how the cost of diagnostic testing and testing during treatment can add up.

Why Are Dog Blood Tests Expensive?

To keep it simple, dog blood tests cost a lot because they provide so much information about your pet’s overall health. A urinalysis costs around $30-$70 but only provides information about the urinary tract. Likewise, a physical exam might cost $50-$70 but only shows the vet limited information about your pet’s condition. 

The information blood testing provides is so valuable because it can alert vets of minor issues like dehydration or critical issues like cancer. Oftentimes, the minor imbalances uncovered in blood work help point the vet to serious underlying issues that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Basic combination CBC/blood chemistry panels average between $100-$200, but they provide your vet insight on your dog’s blood cell counts, hormone levels, organ function, and more. Information like enzyme levels, for example, can alert the vet that something is wrong with your pet, leading to a proper diagnosis. Blood work provides far more diagnostic information than a physical exam can.

As we discussed, the vet will sometimes need to run specialized blood tests on your pet to diagnose or monitor certain conditions. These tests like thyroid and electrolyte panels provide more comprehensive data and, therefore, cost more.

What Does a Blood Test Show In Dogs?

Now you know that blood work costs a lot because it provides so much useful data. So, what exactly is included in that data?

A complete blood count shows the quality and quantity of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets within a sample. Your dog’s white blood cells help the vet analyze immunity levels, inflammation, and possible infection. Your dog’s red blood cell count provides information about blood oxygen levels, which is useful in detecting anemia and dehydration. Lastly, platelet count helps the vet gauge blood clotting ability, which is crucial for dogs undergoing surgical procedures.

Canine blood chemistry tests provide information on an extensive list of bodily chemicals, including glucose, digestive enzymes, electrolytes, and hormones. Chemicals like calcium, cholesterol, and creatine are important to your pet’s organ function, so abnormal levels indicate a problem.

Blood chemistry tests help vets diagnose: 

  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Intestinal disease
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Anemia
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Addison’s Disease
  • Cushing’s Disease

Blood work isn’t just useful for dogs but can be utilized for a variety of other pets. A $40-$70 FELV/FIV test could help the vet diagnose your cat’s feline leukemia or immunodeficiency virus. Clinics specializing in exotic veterinary medicine offer blood testing for critters like rattlesnakes, ferrets, sugar gliders, and pigs. When budgeting for any pet’s veterinary care, make sure you consider the extra costs blood work can add to your invoice. 

Does Pet Insurance Cover Blood Work Costs?

 Pet insurance will cover blood work if it’s prescribed in response to an unexpected illness or injury. It’s generally safe to assume your pet insurance plan will cover diagnostic testing methods like blood work, X-rays, skin tests, and ultrasounds that are associated with an accident or unexpected sickness.

On the other hand, preventative or routine blood work typically isn’t covered. Pet insurance provides reimbursement for unexpected veterinary costs, so yearly vet visits aren’t included. This also excludes services like dental cleanings, nail trimmings, vaccinations, and wellness exams. 

If blood work coverage is important to you, you can look for providers who offer wellness plan coverage. These plans typically allow coverage up to a certain dollar amount for different routine services. For example, an EssentialWellness plan with Pets Best costs $16 per month and provides up to $50 in reimbursements for routine blood work. Factor in reimbursements for other routine services, and the plan covers up to $305 in yearly preventative care costs. 

Final Thoughts

As pet parents, we pay high prices to ensure our best friends get the most meaningful health care. Blood work provides an impressive list of important metrics, making it a critical part of our dogs’ routine and specialized care. Understanding what dog blood work costs and what it shows us is the first step in avoiding any panic when the bill comes. If the cost of canine blood work seems overwhelming, you can budget for routine vet visits ahead of time or purchase a pet insurance policy to cover unexpected costs. Cost aside, you can rest assured knowing your dog’s blood work is a crucial part of providing it a happy, healthy life.