Proper sample submission is critical to a successful toxicological analysis. Improper sample submission can jeopardize the process and cause erroneous results. The components of proper sample submission are: 1) choice of appropriate test sample; 2) ideal sample size; 3) appropriate packaging; 4) ideal shipping conditions; and 5) paper work complete with history, clinical signs, clinical chemistry, feed labels, necropsy reports, or any other pertinent information.

The MSU VDL Toxicology Laboratory has versatile capabilities. That means we can test a wide variety of matrices/specimens. We analyze source materials like water, food, bait, fence posts, animal bedding, nuts, coins, river-bed sediments, etc. If you suspect it as a source of poisoning, we can test it. We can also analyze tissue samples from poisoned animals including liver, kidney, brain, adipose tissue (fat), and hair; and biological fluids including serum, plasma, whole blood, urine, bile, cerebral spinal fluid, and seminal plasma. These samples should be frozen (except whole blood which should be refrigerated) and packaged appropriately.

Among other factors, the choice of sample depends on the poison in question, length of time post-exposure, and whether the animal is alive or dead. A veterinarian usually can decide on the appropriate sample(s) alone or in consultation with a clinical toxicologist. When calling the Toxicology Section, please be prepared to share information about the animal’s medical history, clinical signs, living environment, etc. so we can help you determine appropriate samples for testing.

Selection of suitable samples for testing should be done with care and good knowledge of absorption, distribution, and excretion of the target test compounds in the species of concern.

Please strictly follow the guidelines for sample volume/size and shipping conditions specified in our test catalog. Some poisons are volatile at room temperature, while others are metabolized and lost if not packaged properly.

Sample Collection to Diagnose Copper Toxicosis in Dogs

We recommend needle biopsy samples in live patients as blood is not a suitable sample for diagnosis of copper toxicosis in dogs. We need a minimum of 10 mg dry weight (50 mg wet weight) of liver for this test. Biopsy samples should be submitted in plastic vials. In deceased dogs, please send 5 g of liver. The same approach is recommended for diagnosis of iron storage disease in all species.

For complete information about Toxicology tests, specimen requirements, or submittal procedures please see our catalog of available tests. Please call 517.353.1683 if you have any questions about Toxicology testing.