Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Hematology: neutrophil

Contributor(s): Kathleen P Freeman, Simon Tappin


  • Neutrophils phagocytose and digest foreign material in acute infectious or non-infectious inflammation.
  • The degree of [neutrophil] increase (neutrophilia) and presence or absence of left-shift provides a valuable diagnostic (in combination with other tests) and prognostic tool in many diseases.
  • Regenerative left-shift: neutrophilia with increased numbers of bands (mature neutrophils usually outnumber bands Hematology: band neutrophil, band cell ).
  • Degenerative left-shift: increased numbers of bands without increased numbers of mature neutrophils. Presence indicates that production and release are not meeting demand.
  • Marked left-shift (bands and metamyelocytes) Hematology: band neutrophil, band cell → acute to peracute, suppurative diseases. Any stage younger than the metamyelocyte is not capable of phagocytosis.
  • Neutrophils are short-lived (approximately 4 days).


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  • Manual hemocytometer - accuracy +/- 20-25%.
  • Electronic counting systems - accuracy +/- 3-5% (intralaboratory precision) or +/- 10-15% (interlaboratory precision).
  • Some in-practice analyzers or cell counting methods available.


  • Widely available at commercial laboratories.
  • May be performed in practice.



  • Sensitive.


  • Non-specific.

Predictive value

  • Useful if used in conjunction with differential white blood cell counts.

Technician (extrinsic) limitations

  • Some experience is required for accurate identification of leukocytes.

Result Data

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from VetMed Resource and PubMed.
  • Schnelle A N & Barger A M (2012) Neutropenia in dogs and cats: causes and consequences. Vet Clinics North Am Small Anim Pract 42(1), 111-122 PubMed.
  • Brown M R & Rogers K S (2001) Neutropenia in dogs and cats - a retrospective study of 261 cases. JAAHA 37, 131-139.

Other sources of information

  • Valenciano A C & Cowell R E (2013) Cowell and Tyler's Diagnostic Cytology and Hematology of the Dog and Cat. 4th edn, Mosby, St Louis.
  • Day N & Kohn B (2012) BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Haematology and Transfusion Medicine. 2nd edn. BSAVA.
  • Latimer K S (2011) Duncan and Prasse's Veterinary Laboratory Medicine: Clinical Pathology. 5th edn. Iowa University Press, Ames, Iowa.
  • Stockham S L & Scott M A (2008) Fundamentals of Veterinary Clinical Pathology. 2nd edn. Blackwell Publishing.
  • Jain N C (1993) Essentials of Veterinary Hematology. Lea & Febiger, Philadelphia.