True North Veterinary Diagnostics Inc

320-6325 204 Street
Langley, BC V2Y3B3




All accounts are billed during the first week of each month for the preceding month’s charges, with 30 day terms. Payment to the account is expected within 30 days of the statement date and financial charges will be applied to balances carried forward beyond 60 days. Billing is done by statement only-no invoices.

Payment options include cheque and credit card (VISA and Mastercard). Please contact the accounts receivable department for a release form to activate automatic credit card payment or to discuss any questions or concerns you may have regarding your account. Charges to your credit card will occur on the 1st or 2nd of each month unless otherwise requested by client.



True North Veterinary Diagnostics is a full service laboratory providing a wide variety of testing including:

Hematology, Chemistry, Microbiology, Parasitology, Endocrinology, Serology, Immunofluoresence Testing (IFA), Histology, Coggins Testing (EIA)






SST (SERUM SEPARATOR TUBE). This tube contains a clot activator and separator gel. Invert the tube to activate clotting and allow to stand in an upright position for 20-30 minutes before centrifuging. Centrifuge for 10-15 minutes to ensure good separation. If submitting frozen transfer the serum to a plastic tube (do not freeze fluids in glass tubes).

RTT (RED TOP TUBE). This is a plain sterile, additive-free vacuum tube. It can be used for collecting serum as well as a general collection container for urine, tissue, and for collection of fluid for culture. When a test is designated for a RTT, do not substitute an SST tube as the gel barrier may interfere with analysis (e.g., the gel will absorb Phenobarbital; the gel can cause falsely decreased values in progesterone).

LTT (LAVENDER TOP TUBE). This tube contains EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) and is used in most hematological analyses. LTT should not be used for submitting samples for culture as the EDTA is bacteriostatic.

GTT (GREY TOP TUBE). This tube contains sodium fluoride and potassium oxalate. Fluoride poisons glycolysis so cells using glucose by glycolysis aren’t able to. If the plasma is not separated soon after collection red cell lysis occurs and will affect result accuracy.

BTT (LIGHT BLUE TOP TUBE). This tube contains sodium citrate as the anticoagulant. It is imperative to properly fill the tube. For the 2.7 ml 1.8 ml of blood is required. A “clean stick” is imperative. Invert the tube 6-10 times immediately after collection.

GRNTT (GREEN TOP TUBE). This contains lithium heparin as the anticoagulant. Plasma from these tubes can be substituted for serum for some chemistry tests. Heparinized whole blood is preferred to EDTA whole blood for preservation of cell morphology in some species (especially ostrich).

DBTT (DARK BLUE TOP TUBE). There are two types of dark blue top tubes-one with EDTA and the other is additive free. These are used in the collection of whole blood or serum for trace mineral analysis.

ACT TUBES.   These tubes are used as a crude screen of coagulation. A tube containing diatomaceous earth is filled with 2 ml of blood and then inverted 5 times. Keep the tube at body temperature (e.g. under arm) checking every thirty seconds for complete clot formation.



Patient information and as complete a history as possible is important in arriving at a diagnosis and in formulating appropriate comments. Preparing and reading cytologic specimens will be carried out at the lab with cytologic results available within 24 hours (in most cases, same day).

General recommendations are:

  • Label slides and containers with patient name and origin of collection.
  • Make air-dried smears immediately when doing FNA of solid lesions and as soon as possible when collecting fluid (air dried smears are not indicated when collecting CSF). Aspirated material should be gently spread over the slide by the slide over slide technique. Too much pressure will rupture cells and may render the specimen non diagnostic. Droplets allowed to dry where they land may be too thick for proper microscopic evaluation and or cells can rupture because of delayed drying and preservation.
  • Fluids submitted for cell counts should be placed in a LTT. Fluid submitted for culture should be placed in RTT or similar sterile container.
  • When submitting urine, it is best to submit air-dried smears and not wet-mount specimens. A droplet of the sediment after centrifugation can be used to make air-dried smears and this can be helpful since cells do not retain their morphology in the protein poor environment of typical urine.
  • When submitting slides for uterine cytology, roll the swab gently over the slide.
  • Please note: Do not put slides in the refrigerator.
  • Bone marrow slides should be kept separate from formalin samples.


True North has a complete histology department for preparing histologic specimens and most histologic reports will be available within 3-5 days of specimen receipt and processing. Exceptions will be those specimens requiring inspection and dissection by a pathologist, specimens requiring decalcification and specimens requiring additional fixation time.

Most tissue samples should be submitted in 10% buffered formalin. It is imperative to include patient information including species, breed, sex, age and site or origin of the specimen. Including clinical history is especially helpful to the pathologist in providing as complete a diagnosis as possible.


Guidelines for proper submission are as follows:

  • Place tissue in fixative as soon after collection as possible.
  • Tissue specimens should be placed in sterile red top tubes or histo containers supplied from the lab. If submission must be made in something other than the aforementioned laboratory containers, please be very careful to make sure the container is very tightly sealed and does not leak. Tupperware containers are not appropriate for specimen submission.
  • Using optimal volume of fixative is important. The volume of fixative should be 10-20 times the total tissue volume.
  • Very large specimens (entire spleen for example) are better submitted fresh in a well sealed container after refrigeration. Submitting large specimens in large containers containing formalin are more than likely to leak, producing fumes that can be noxious to courier and accession personnel. Samples from very large specimens/lesions can be submitted in formalin but should be accompanied by a description and or diagram of where they were taken.

Causes of artifact:

  • Delayed fixation permitting autolysis and or drying of tissues.
  • Freezing tissue prior to fixation.
  • Electrocautery removal of small tissue samples-with very small samples the artifact may preclude diagnosis.
  • Crushing of tissue-pertains primarily to small biopsies.
  • Placing tissue in saline prior to fixation.



Various collection and transport vessels are provided by the laboratory ie. anaerobic culture media, calgi swabs (avian), campylobacter transport media, clostridium perfringens kit, culturette swabs, viral/mycoplasma/ureaplasma transport media, etc. Please follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results and check the expiration date before using. Precise anatomic site of the specimen is important for proper processing. Note this information on the requisition form.

Specimens should be collected prior to initiating antibiotic therapy. This is especially true with blood cultures. If the animal is on antibiotic therapy, it is best to withhold therapy for at least 72 hours before collection, or immediately after the administration of the initial dose. Centers of necrotic lesions or purulent lesions may not show growth even in the face of infection.Please refer to the bacteriology section for further instructions on the necessary collection procedures for different organisms. Gram stain can be done on specimens submitted as air-dried slides or culturettes. Please note: Quantitative urine cultures cannot be provided on a swab.


Whole body submissions: Necropsy service will be provided however due to size and refrigeration constraints, animals greater than 10 kg will not be accepted. Animals larger than this can be submitted to the Animal Health Center in Abbotsford ( (604) 556-3003). Remains following necropsy at True North will not be released back to the owner or veterinary clinic/practice. Arrangements can be made to have the remains delivered to an appropriate service for purposes of cremation if so desired. Please specify if cremation is to be communal or private and if there is a preferred cremation company. To decrease the rate of autolysis after death, the body should be cooled by refrigeration or by placing ice packs around the body. Do not freeze however as this introduces artifact. Please submit the body in a sealed plastic bag to prevent leakage of bodily fluids. Wrapping the body in blankets or tarps will speed autolysis and should be avoided. Please provide as much clinical history as possible. Pricing is based entirely on professional time required of pathologist in which to perform the necropsy. If you would like a more definitive price please have the attending veterinarian contact the pathologist prior to submission to discuss the case. Quotes from laboratory staff are for general information purposes only.

Tissue submissions: Submit representative samples from all organ systems in 10% buffered formalin for histologic examination. Include a complete description of any gross lesions found and include a clinical history.



Our courier network for the greater Vancouver area and Fraser Valley region will combine our own company couriers and commercial couriers with specific contracts to True North. When you initiate an account with True North you will receive information regarding the courier service in your area along with a start up package including lab manual, supplies etc.

All clinics will receive two to three daily pick-ups Monday through Friday. There will be one to two pick-ups on Saturday and one on Sunday. In the beginning, all clients are requested to call in when they require a pick-up. Cut-off times will be in effect and these will be on record at each of the laboratories. In time, those clinics with frequent pick-ups will be placed on a no-call-necessary list and pick-ups will be automatic.

Samples can be dropped off at the laboratory during business hours.   The business hours are as follows:




All testing at True North Veterinary Diagnostics is directed by board certified Veterinary Clinical Pathologists. Individual departments will be managed by registered technologists and testing will be performed by a combination of qualified registered and non-registered technologists and technical aides. True North will subscribe to proficiency testing surveys provided by the Veterinary Laboratory Association. Through these programs we will be comparing our test results with peer laboratories throughout the world. True North will maintain a comprehensive quality assurance program including commercial assayed, multi-level controls and in house prepared controls. Controls will be run daily with each group of specimens. It is our intention to seek and achieve laboratory wide ISO 17025 accreditation.



Most tests run in house will be available within 24 hours. The results can be reported via the phone, email or fax. Tests with longer reporting times such as histologies, bacteriology and necropsies will be reported as they are completed. Test reporting times are provided in this True North Veterinary Diagnostics Services Manual-see individual test description for details. Please note: True North Veterinary Diagnostics is licensed to deal with veterinary clinics only. As a result, requests to have test results reported to owners via email, phone or fax will unfortunately not be fulfilled.



Tests pertaining to blood are performed on whole blood, plasma or serum. Generally it is advised to refrigerate samples until they are received by the courier for transport to the laboratory. Please note individual test notations in this Directory for specific instructions.


Draw a sufficient amount of blood into a collection tube with the indicated anticoagulant to yield the necessary plasma volume and proper ratio of blood to anticoagulant. Most species have a PCV between 30 and 50 percent and 3 ml of whole blood will yield between 1 and 1.5 ml of plasma. Gently mix the blood by inverting the tube 6-10 times. If indicated, separate plasma from cells by centrifugation as soon as possible.


Draw a sufficient amount of blood with the indicated anticoagulant to ensure proper dilution. Mix by gently inverting the tube 6-10 times.


Draw a sufficient amount of blood into an SST or RTT to yield the necessary serum volume. Allow blood to clot in an upright position at room temperature. Centrifuge after 20-30 minutes. Serum can be pipetted off the cells from a RTT and poured off from an SST tube.


Draw into the tubes with additive (lavender or green tops) to between the indicated fill marks, gently inverting 8-10 times to prevent coagulation. The non-additive red top may be filled to any point and handled as serum.



Supplies for purposes of sample submission can be ordered by simply returning a Supply Request form at the time of a sample pick-up, faxing an order in to the lab directly, or calling in the order via telephone. Blank supply request forms can be obtained by calling the lab. The forms will be delivered via courier during the next pick-up or if you wish, a copy faxed to your facility. Please allow for 3 business days for delivery of supplies (although in most cases the order will be filled the next business day).

Supplies provided by the laboratory at no extra charge include:




BLUE TOP TUBES: sodium citrate, 2.7 ml, citrated plasma used for coagulation testing.

GREEN TOP TUBES: heparin, 4 ml, heparinized whole blood or plasma. Heparinized blood can be used for most chemistries.

GREY TOP TUBES: sodium fluoride/potassium oxalate, 2 ml.


LAVENDER TOP TUBES: EDTA, 2 and 6 ml, whole blood for hematology testing, fluids submitted for cytology.

MICROTAINER GREEN TOP: 1.3 ml, heparinized whole blood for avian and exotic hematology testing, heparinized plasma can be used for most chemistries.

MICROTAINER LAVENDER TOP: 1.3 ml, whole blood for avian and exotic hematology.

MICROTAINER SST: 1.3 ml, serum for chemistries, immunology, serology and endocrinology. Used mainly for avian/exotics.

RED TOP TUBES: no additive, 5 and 10 ml, serum for chemistries, endocrinology, therapeutic drug monitoring, serology, immunology, urine for urinalysis and cultures, fluids for culture.

SERUM SEPARATOR TUBES-3.5 and 5 ml: serum for chemistries, immunology, serology and endocrinology.

TRACE ELEMENT TUBE: zinc testing, 7 ml.












*Shipping charges may apply




ACT TUBES: (activated clotting time) Tubes can be obtained from the lab at a cost of $3.47 per tube.

BLOOD CULTURE VIALS: can be obtained from the lab at a cost of $14.17 per vial.