At Full Circle we also carry out microscopic examination on skin scrapings and skin smears. Looking at the sample under the microscope can give us an idea if any infectious agents, such as bacteria or yeast, are in overabundance. Aspirates and swabs of lumps, and skin samples can also give us information about the cytological, or cellular make-up of the sample which may indicate inflammation, malignancy (cancer), or infection.
The following picture shows several small budding yeast bodies, overlaid on an epithelial skin cell (1000 x magnification). The sample is taken from the inside of an ear.
The following image is of a fine needle aspirate of a lump showing cells consistent with a mast cell tumor. These particular cells (centre) can be identified by the dark purple granules found in the cytoplasm of the cells. Often, the granules will be found spilled out on the outside of the cells, as well. Other cells present on the sample included degenerated neutrophils, which can be a sign of infection, as well as red blood cells.
Other common laboratory screens include examining a blood smear. This can give us information about the type and density or number of blood cells, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, found in circulation. The appearance of the red blood cells can sometimes tell us if an animal is anemic, and can indicate if new red blood cells are being produced. Information about the white blood cells can tell us if an animal is fighting an infection. A platelet count is also very important to look at, as it can give us indications if an animal has a blood clotting disorder. The following blood smear is of a healthy dog. Most of the cells are of similar, round size, are not clumped together, and are consistent in the amount of red staining. The smaller blotches on this image are platelets.
The next image demonstrates the blood of animal with blood disturbances, including anemia. The cells are often hypochromic (lacking in pigmentation) indicative of anemia. Overall, the red blood cell count for this dog was lower than normal, with the density of cells under microscope more scarce than expected. The appearance of cells sticking together is also abnormal (1000x)
Thanks to Patti Green, RVT for compiling this blog.
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