Blood cells begin to degenerate as soon as they leave the body, and continue to do so in the sample tube. Blood cells from different species degenerate at different rates. For example, bovine and rabbit blood cells degenerate particularly quickly, but horse’s cells do not.
By the time we receive the bloods in the laboratory, the cell morphology can have changed considerably from when it left the animal. The erythrocytes from a Persian cat (Figures 1 and 2) show the difference 12 hours can make. The poikilocytosis is still present, but considerably more marked in the aged sample.
‘How To’ guides are available on our website to assist with making great blood smears.