McKee-Pownall Equine Services | Health Care FAQ

Health Care FAQ

What do Complete Blood Count and Chemistry Profile terms mean?

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

You have had your horse’s blood tested & may be curious as to what it all means. The following table contains a brief explanation of the Complete Blood Count (CBC):

Term Definition
CBC Complete blood count, includes RBC, HGB, HCT, WBC, differential, MCV, MCH, MCHC & platelet values
RBC Total red blood cell count, if low = anemia, if high = erythrocytosis
HGB Hemoglobin –measures the oxygen carrying ability of the RBC
HCT Hematocrit –measures % of red blood cells in whole blood, also called “packed cell volume” (PCV)
Calculated values that correlate the amount of hemoglobin and the size of the red blood cells
Platelets A component of the blood clotting system
WBC Total white blood cell count, which provides an overall number of all types of WBC’s - neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils & basophils. They play a role in inflammation and fighting infection
Differential Quantifies the amount and relative percentage of neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils & basophils
Neutrophil These cells typically make up about 2/3 of the total WBC count.
Lymphocyte Usually make up about 1/3 of the total WBC count. If your horse was stressed at the time of collection (recent excitement of exercise) this may elevate the count.
Typically very low percentage on the differential, elevations can indicate certain inflammatory conditions such as allergies or parasitism.

Chemistry Profile

You have had your horse’s blood tested & may be curious as to what it all means. The following table contains a brief explanation of the Chemistry Profile

Term Definition
Chemistry Profile panel of tests that analyzes organ (kidney, liver etc.) functions
NA Sodium. Plays a role in water regulation. Main source is from the diet, and level can indicate intake or possibly loss (diarrhea)
K Potassium. Elevated levels can be deadly! Increases can be due to renal disease, Addisons, HYPP in Quarter Horses. Low levels can be due to decreased intake or loss (diarrhea), excessive sweating.
tC02 Total bicarbonate level. Increased levels indicate metabolic alkalosis. Decreased levels indicate metabolic acidosis. Important in racing industry as increased levels = positive test, fines, suspensions etc.
CK Creatine kinase. Muscle enzyme, elevated with muscle damage. Peaks 4-6 hrs. after injury. Peaks before AST.
GLU Glucose. Can be elevated with a recent meal, decreased with liver dysfunction, or prolonged time between blood collection and analysis.
CA Calcium. Low levels may be associated with low protein levels.
BUN Blood urea nitrogen. Increases with kidney disease. Decreases with liver failure, low protein diet & anabolic steroid use.
CRE Creatinine. Increases with kidney disease.
AST Liver and muscle enzyme, will be elevated with liver or muscle damage. Peaks about 24 hours after injury has occurred
TBIL Total bilirubin level.  Measures liver function. May be elevated by liver disease & anorexia (not eating).
GGT Liver enzyme, elevated with bile stasis, large colon obstruction.
ALB Albumin, a type of blood protein; can be decreased in chronic liver disease, inflammation, kidney disease, intestinal malabsorption & malnutrition. Increased levels indicate severe dehydration.
GLOB Globulins, a type of blood protein; often increased with inflammation, immune-mediated disease & some neoplasms. Decreased levels occur with passive transfer failure in foals, severe protein loss.
A/G Ratio Compares the ratio of the amount of albumin to globulins
TP Total protein, measures protein in the blood; can indicate dehydration if elevated. Decreases with kidney & GI disease, liver failure & starvation