Common Chemistry Tests Performed By Your Veterinarian

When your dog needs a “chemistry panel” or “biochemistry profile,” what exactly does that mean? Well, the short answer is that your vet wants to test the functioning of multiple organs with one blood test. These are the most common tests performed.

Alkaline Phosphatase

Many tissues in your dog’s body make alkaline phosphatase. When levels are elevated in the blood, the most common reasons are liver disease, bone disease, Cushing’s disease, or increased blood cortisol due to medications.


This is an enzyme that comes from the cells in the liver. When your pet has liver damage, ALT increases and accumulates in the bloodstream.


The pancreas and intestinal tract produces this enzyme. It helps to break down sugar. If the results show high amylase levels, it could mean cancer of the pancreas or pancreatitis. The latter can be difficult to diagnose because amylase registers as normal in some cases.

Bile Acids

Produced in the liver, bile acids aid in the decomposition of fats. A bile acid test examines the functioning of the liver and blood circulation within it.


The liver produces bilirubin from retired red blood cells. If your dog has liver disease, gall bladder disease, or hemolysis, bilirubin will be elevated. If large amounts of bilirubin are in the bloodstream, jaundice will occur.

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN)

The liver and kidneys both influence BUN. This is a waste product from proteins that the kidney eliminates. Low BUN occurs with liver disease and high BUN is seen with kidney disease. You will only see a fluctuation of BUN when 75 percent of the kidneys are not working properly.


Cholesterol can be high in animals, just like in humans. Hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, diabetes, and kidney disease all can cause elevated levels of cholesterol.


Common Chemistry
The kidneys eliminate creatinine, a waste product of the muscles. Elevated creatinine can be due to kidney disease or dehydration. Damaged muscles release creatinine kinase, so when it’s elevated, it could mean damage to the heart muscle.


Blood sugar becomes elevated with the presence of diabetes mellitus and sometimes Cushing’s disease. Levels can temporarily elevate and fall depending on your dog’s diet and exercise habits. Low sugar is less common than high sugar and can be a symptom of pancreatic cancer or sepsis. It may cause your pet to have seizures or become depressed.

Phosphorus, Potassium, and Sodium

These might be more familiar to you since it may be something your doctor has regulated in your own diet. Phosphorus comes from bones and is high in patients with chronic kidney disease, much like BUN. Potassium leaves the body in the form of urine, diarrhea, or vomit. When it’s low, the patient will become weak, lethargic, and experience pain. Elevated amounts could indicate acute kidney failure due to antifreeze poisoning, Addison’s disease, or bladder obstructions. Sodium could increase with dehydration and decrease with Addison’s disease.

Total Protein

This includes albumin and globulins. Total protein might increase with dehydration or immune system imbalances.


Urine samples tell a lot about the condition of your dog. Your vet will be able to analyze the concentration, color, and clarity to determine the presence of various medical conditions. Depending on what your vet is testing for, he may collect the sample in one of several ways.