How Polycythemia is Diagnosed
The initial database for a dog presenting with the nonspecific signs associated with polycythemia usually includes a baseline complete blood count, total plasma protein measurement, serum chemistry panel and urinalysis, in addition of course to a thorough history and physical examination. These tests may help to distinguish between the relative and absolute forms of this disorder.
Other diagnostic tools include assessment of blood erythropoietin levels, blood gas oxygen values and pulse oximetry oxygen saturation values. Radiographs (X-rays) may be useful to identify pulmonary (lung) and/or cardiac (heart) disorders or other diseases that may be contributing to polycythemia. Electrocardiographs (ECGs) and ultrasonography can be used to assess the heart, kidneys, liver and adrenal glands.
Dehydration and certain drugs can affect the results of some of these diagnostic techniques. A veterinarian is the best person to advise owners appropriately about the diagnosis and treatment of polycythemia in companion dogs.