Performing a packed cell volume (PCV) and total protein (TP) is one of the easiest tests performed in a veterinary clinic. A PCV/TP can give you valuable information instantly about the pet’s status and help you think ahead to the next step in treatment.
PCV is the percentage of red blood cells in circulating blood. A decreased PCV generally means red blood cell loss from any variety of reasons like cell destruction, blood loss, and failure of bone marrow production. An increased PCV generally means dehydration or an abnormal increase in red blood cell production. TP is a measurement of plasma proteins. A decreased TP generally means the animal is suffering from protein loss from any variety of reasons like blood loss. An increased TP usually means dehydration.
Once you spin down the hematocrit, you can then examine the buffy coat. The buffy coat, which is white blood cells, sits between the red cell layer and the plasma. A large buffy coat can signify a large increase in WBC count.
↑PCV, ↑TP: This patient is dehydrated. As the water portion of blood is decreased you will see an elevation in both the PCV and TP.
↑PCV, normal TP: This patient is dehydrated.
↑PCV, ↓TP : This patient is dehydrated and has protein loss as well. This result is seen in trauma cases. This patient would be suffering from blood loss and it is important to recheck the PCV and TP after starting initial treatment.
Normal PCV, ↑TP: This is a common for cats that have chronic kidney disease. This pet will also have anemia and dehydration.
Normal PCV, normal TP: Normal is good, depending on the reason the PCV/TP were performed in the first place. In trauma cases and blood loss, then the test will need to be rechecked again.
Normal PCV, ↓TP: This patient has a protein losing disease, chronic diarrhea, or certain liver and kidney diseases.
↓PCV, ↑TP: The elevated TP indicates dehydration and anemia.
↓PCV, normal TP: This patient is suffering from Red Blood Cell destruction and possibly IMHA.
↓PCV, ↓TS: This patient is suffering from whole blood loss and needs to be monitored very closely.
So as you can see, a PCV/TP can give you much needed information very quickly. By using your skills and knowledge of the treatment plan for these pets, you can now prepare for their immediate needs.