Hematology and serum clinical chemistry reference intervals for free-ranging Scandinavian gray wolves (Canis lupus)

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Abstract

Background:

Scandinavian free-ranging wolves (Canis lupus) are endangered, such that laboratory data to assess their health status is increasingly important. Although wolves have been studied for decades, most biological information comes from captive animals.

Objectives:

The objective of the present study was to establish reference intervals for 30 clinical chemical and 8 hematologic analytes in Scandinavian free-ranging wolves.

Methods:

All wolves were tracked and chemically immobilized from a helicopter before examination and blood sampling in the winter of 7 consecutive years (1998–2004). Seventy-nine blood samples were collected from 57 gray wolves, including 24 juveniles (24 samples), 17 adult females (25 samples), and 16 adult males (30 samples). Whole blood and serum samples were stored at refrigeration temperature for 1–3 days before hematologic analyses and for 1–5 days before serum biochemical analyses. Reference intervals were calculated as 95% confidence intervals except for juveniles where the minimum and maximum values were used.

Results:

Significant differences were observed between adult and juvenile wolves for RBC parameters, alkaline phosphatase and amylase activities, and total protein, albumin, γ-globulins, cholesterol, creatinine, calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphate, and sodium concentrations.

Conclusion:

Compared with published reference values for captive wolves, reference intervals for free-ranging wolves reflected exercise activity associated with capture (higher creatine kinase activity, higher glucose concentration), and differences in nutritional status (higher urea concentration).

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