When you bring your pet to Creston Veterinary Hospital for surgery (or any procedure where they will be going under general anesthetic), you will be asked if you want to have bloodwork done on your pet before their surgery. Running bloodwork is a quick test that tells your vet a lot of information about your pet’s health from the inside out, and ensures they are healthy prior to going under anesthesia!

What happens when you do bloodwork on my pet?

• Running bloodwork involves taking a small amount of blood from your pet’s vein and performing two different tests on it – a Complete Blood Count (CBC), and a Biochemistry Analysis. The CBC looks at the blood cells themselves (red blood cells that carry oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, white blood cells that are vital for immune function, and platelets, which help the blood to clot). The Biochemistry looks at the enzymes and electrolytes in the liquid portion of blood, which reflect your pet’s organ function and hydration status.

What kind of information does bloodwork give my veterinarian?

• A CBC and Biochemistry Analysis gives your vet a wide variety of information about your pet’s health, such as:

• Red blood cell level and production: Ensuring there are enough red blood cells in the body, and that the red blood cells are healthy is important to maintain oxygen levels in the body when they go under anesthetic.

• Immune system function: Changes in the number or type of white blood cells can indicate the presence of bacterial or parasitic infections, or disease processes in the body that cause inflammation. Too few white blood cells may indicate a decreased immune function, which can lead to problems healing after surgery or an increased risk of developing post-surgical infections.

• Platelet number: Platelets are an important part of blood clotting; it is important to make sure your pet has enough platelets to prevent excessive bleeding during surgery.

• Hydration level: It is important that your pet is well hydrated prior to surgery, as this will help them maintain an appropriate blood pressure to make sure all their organs are getting enough blood flow during surgery.

• Kidney and liver function: These are the main organs that we are concerned about when an animal goes under anesthesia, as they process the anesthetic drugs and clear them from your pet’s body as they wake up.

• Electrolyte levels: Abnormalities in electrolytes (such as potassium, calcium, sodium, chloride, and phosphorus) can indicate kidney damage, adrenal issues, or even some types of cancer! Imbalances in electrolytes can also lead to an increased risk of complications such as heart arrhythmias when under anesthetic.

Why is it important to run bloodwork before anesthesia?

• Bloodwork gives your veterinarian vital information regarding your pet’s organ function and overall body health. It can pick up on internal issues that cannot be seen or are still too subtle to pick up on a physical exam. Ensuring your pet is healthy inside and out prior to surgery will minimize their risk of complications, and help ensure they have a smooth recovery so they can get back to their normal selves in no time!

• Having bloodwork also helps your vet pick the appropriate drug combination to give your pet for sedation, anesthesia, and pain control. Knowing how your dog or cat’s organs are functioning allows the doctor to tailor your pet’s medications to their specific needs, which helps decrease side effects.

• If your veterinarian sees something in the bloodwork that is concerning, they will contact you to discuss the issue and how to proceed. They may decide to give intravenous fluids, or to delay your pet’s procedure untl the problem can be corrected. This ensures that your pet is as stable as possible prior to anesthesia, which helps keep them safe and minimizes the chance of your pet experiencing complications.

My dog/cat looks healthy, do they really need to have bloodwork done?

• Even if your pet appears healthy, it is always a good idea to run bloodwork on them before they go under anesthesia. Many diseases are subtle in their early stages, and our pets often don’t act sick until there is something very wrong. While this is especially important in older patients, who have decreases in organ function as they age, it is also a good idea to do bloodwork in younger patients as they may have congenital abnormalities that put them at increased anesthetic risk.

• Having healthy bloodwork information also gives your vet and idea of what is ‘normal’ for your pet. This can be useful in the future if they do get sick, as it allows the doctors to see changes over time, which can help pick up diseases earlier.

When do I bring my pet in for preanesthetic bloodwork?

• You don’t have to make an extra trip to have bloodwork done on your pet! Bloodwork is done the same day as your pet’s surgery, so that we have the most current information about how your pet is doing before they are anesthetized. For more information about what happens after you drop your pet off for surgery, visit our FAQ page!

At Creston Veterinary Hospital, your pet’s health and well-being are of utmost importance! Performing preanesthetic bloodwork is one way to help ensure that your pet stays safe, happy, and healthy while under general anesthetic!