Specimen Guide

Proper handling of the specimens from the time they are obtained until they are received in the laboratory is essential for optimal results. The accuracy of Clinical Pathology tests and their interpretation is primarily dependent upon the quality of the submitted material.

Specimens sent via mail or other carrier are required by law to be in a leak proof container, placed in a sealed bag with absorbent material suitable for absorbing a leak, and surrounded by a hard container (cardboard box) to protect it from impact.  The visible part of the mailing container must include the destination and return address.  The shipper has the responsibility to package these specimens in the manner described.


  • Submit a complete clinical history including time & date of obtaining the sample
  • Submit specimens in proper container or vacutainer tubes
  • Each specimen must be clearly labeled as to the source & individual animal identification
  • Package the specimen carefully to eliminate breakage in transit
  • Place appropriate postage on box; samples may be returned if there is inappropriate postage
  • Samples should arrive before 3:00 PM Monday – Friday & by 9:00 am on Saturday
    Please contact the Laboratory if submitting a sample for Saturday delivery
  • Testing is performed daily Monday - Friday

Routine Chemistry

Collect blood in sterile red top tube.  Allow the blood to clot for 15-30 minutes before centrifuging at a high speed (2500 rpm) for 10 minutes. Remove the serum and transfer into a clean sterile tube.  Ship overnight with an ice pack. Minimum of 1 ml of serum should be submitted for most chemistry profiles.



Blood should be collected in EDTA tubes.  Tubes MUST be at least 1/3 full.  Mix samples immediately after collection.  Check for clots & redraw if clots are present.  Make 2 peripheral blood smears.  Allow to air dry and send with the EDTA specimen.  High temperatures & freezing must be avoided.  Ship specimens overnight in an appropriate container.

Bile Acid –Liver Function Test

Fasting Bile Acid – Fast patient for 8 to 12 hours, collect clot tube.  Centrifuge and remove serum from clot.  Check sample for hemolysis & lipemia.  Redraw if necessary. 

Post Prandial Bile Acid – After collecting the fasting sample feed a small amount of low fat food (KD or ID is recommended). 

Dogs < 5 pounds feed 1 tablespoon

Dogs >5 but <50  pounds feed ¼ cup

Dogs >50 pounds feed ½ cup

Ensure food is retained.  Draw a two hour post prandial serum sample.  Centrifuge and separate serum.  DO NOT SUBMIT IN SERUM SEPARATOR TUBES. 

Random Bile Acid – Collect in red top tube. Centrifuge and submit like a routine chemistry test.


All coagulation tests must be collected in a FULL sodium citrate tube (blue top tube).  The ratio of blood to anticoagulant is critical. Centrifuge specimen and remove plasma and freeze in a no-additive red top tube.  Ship frozen specimen on ice packs overnight.  Label specimen as citrated plasma

Miscellaneous Test:

Urinalysis – Fresh urine should be sent in a sterile container on ice packs.  If cytology is desired, submit small amount of urine in an EDTA tube.

Coombs/Crossmatch – Send EDTA and Serum sample. Contact Laboratory for additional instructions

Snap 4DX – 0.5 ml serum or EDTA plasma. Detection of Dirofilaria immitis (HW), Anaplasma phagocytophilum (AP) Borrelia burgdorferi (LY) & Ehrlichia canis (EC).

Special Chemistry Tests

TSH, T4, Progesterone & Phenobarbital - Draw samples in a sterile red top tube.  Allow the sample to clot thoroughly before centrifuging. Separate serum & transfer to a clean tube. 

Progesterone testing must be shipped overnight. For Saturday delivery, please ship UPS.

ACTH Stimulation Test  - For dogs & cats collect a baseline sample and administer 5 µg/kg IV and obtain a post sample at 1 hour later.

Low Dose Dexamethasone – for canine, collect baseline sample then administer 0.01 mg/kg dexamethasone iv. Obtain post samples at 4 and 8 hours. 

Ionized Calcium – Draw in red top tube. Centrifuge and send serum at room temperature. Do not freeze. Minimize exposure to air.

Ammonia -  Draw in Heparinized tube (Green Top Tube) and centrifuge immediately. Aliquot plasma into plastic container and cap.  Specimen must be frozen immediately.


Submit 3-5 g fresh feces in a sterile leak proof container.  Please do NOT submit specimen in gloves.


Peritoneal, thoracic, urine & other body fluids should be transported in an EDTA tube (purple top tube).  Submit 2 air-dried, unstained direct smears with the sample. DO NOT send in formalin

Fine needle aspirates or impression smears should be submitted as air-dried smears.  DO NOT use fixative.

More than one smear is preferred, with sample from 2 to 3 different areas of the lesion. 

Bone Marrow - Bone Marrow should be submitted in EDTA or as direct smears.  A recent CBC (24-48 hours) should be submitted with the submission.

Please include a complete clinical history and description of condition for all cytology submissions.

Greater than 10 slides per organ site will be charged an additional $15.00.

Each Organ site will be charged a separate cytology charge.