Seeing Red: Collecting Blood for Testing

by Jocelyn Husch, AHT

It is not uncommon in a typical day to have at least one if not multiple pets that require a blood collection for testing. How we collect a sample is often one of those mysteries (similar to urine) that owners don’t know the steps taken. The majority of the time a blood sample is collected in the treatment room with a technician and tech assistant. Once the doctor and owner come to the conclusion that blood testing would be in the best interest of the pet, a technician or tech assistant will bring the pet in to the treatment room. The technician will make sure that there are enough syringes, needles and collection tubes ready. This is where some technicians can have superstitions, there will still be multiple items out; when over prepared they aren’t needed, but when under prepared there tends to be regret.

When it comes down to the actual collection there are 6 different places that a blood sample can be taken from. The neck has two locations and then each leg can be used as an option. Once the best location is determined – between comfort of the technician and the activity level of the pet – we typically want to have a quick collection from a location that will not stress out the pet completely. Depending on the location your pet will be either sitting up (for the neck or front legs) or laying down (if a back leg Is the best option) on their side.

Once in position and held by the tech assistant, the technician will apply some alcohol to the area where the needle will be placed. This step helps the vein to stand out a bit better and to keep fur out of the way. A needle is then introduced, at times it can be more difficult to get the collection on a first attempt, hydration and veins that easily roll, can make the collection take a little bit longer. Once a sample is collected a bandage is sometimes placed on the limb to help prevent bruising or swelling; similar to what we might experience when giving blood. The bandage does not stick to the fur and can be removed 30 minutes after leaving the clinic.

The blood that is collected is then transferred to the collection tubes needed for the indicated test. Paperwork is filled out with patient information, medical history and anything else that might be needed, and then prepared to be pick-up for the lab. Typically results are in within 24-48hrs depending on the arrival time to the lab and the test requested. Our veterinarians will follow up with results even if they are normal, aka eliminating the lingering question that we can often feel with our own tests. And I almost forgot the most important part, your furry family member, although might not always like having a blood sample taken will often be cuddled and given numerous treats once a successful collection is done!