Importance of Pre Anesthetic Blood Work for Pets

Pre-anesthetic blood work is essential in any animal undergoing anesthesia. If you could go to Las Vegas, sit at a poker table and know what the dealers cards were, wouldn’t you? Anesthetic procedures are a gamble albeit the risks of complications are greater on the car ride to the hospital and not the anesthesia itself.

Having blood work done on your pet allows your veterinarian to see the dealer’s cards and increase your pet’s odds of having a complication free procedure. When pets are young, they can have congenital problems associated with their liver or kidneys that can alter how their body handles the anesthetic drugs. These issues often show no symptoms or signs for some time, which leads us to believe your pet is healthy and problem free. Truth is, we don’t know until we analyze the blood work and get a break down of what is going on inside of your pet. Often times, the blood work comes back normal and we are able to celebrate normal!

When we analyze pre-anesthetic blood work at Encina Veterinary Hospital, we are looking at the following values:
     – BUN, CREATININE, and PHOSPHORUS (related to Kidney function)
     – ALT, ALKALINE PHOSPHATASE, and BILIRUBIN (related to Liver function)
     – AMYLASE and LIPASE (related to Pancreas function)
     – TOTAL PROTEIN and GLOBULIN (related to the immune system and dehydration)
     – ELECTROLYTES (related to endocrine diseases, kidney function, and dehydration)
We often analyze other values, depending on the blood panel ran and what the needs of the pet are.

In adult and senior animals, issues such as organ dysfunction associated with old age changes or disease that decreases their ability to break down and excrete anesthetic drugs may arise, which makes pre-anestheic blood work even more essential. In addition to this, if their RBC (red blood cell) count is low, it makes it difficult for your pet to get enough oxygen (because these cells transport and distribute oxygen all throughout your pet’s body) and there are many complications that can arise including cardiac arrest.

It is important to know that many pets can have mild to moderate levels of organ dysfunction or anemia without actually appearing sick. Blood work that doesn’t come back normal doesn’t necessarily mean that your pet may not have the procedure done as expected; it may mean that your veterinarian may use a different drug that better fits your pet and their individual needs. Some times however, blood work tells us that the procedure is not able to be done at this moment for one reason or another. In times like this, your veterinarian will work closely with you and your pet in order to get him or her healthier.

Jared Jaffey, DVM