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Preanesthetic Blood Work - Why Your Pet Needs It

Having your pet's blood work done is important for even simple procedures like having dental work, which is an appointment you should make for the month of February, if you haven't already - get great specials this month for Pet Dental Month!

Why is preanesthetic blood work valuable?

Preanesthetic blood work is recommended for many animals that are in need of undergoing anesthesia. This blood work allows your veterinarian to assess your pet's overall health, ensuring your pet is a great candidate for anesthesia. If abnormalities are shown by the blood work, these abnormalities could be addressed by making any necessary adjustments to your pet's diet or routine.


What does preanesthetic blood work measure?

Preanesthetic blood work typically involves two components, while the specific biochemical parameters measured in preanesthetic blood work change, based on the blood work panel your vet advocates for. These two elements are a complete blood count (CBC) and also a serum biochemistry. These tests provide valuable information about your pet's inner health and wellness.


What is a complete blood count (CBC)?

The cells that exist in your pet's bloodstream are assessed by a complete blood count. Abnormalities in your furry friend's cell counts can indicate disease and show that your pet's health is in danger.


A complete blood count looks at three specific components:


  • Red blood cells - these cells carry oxygen through the bloodstream and into your pet's tissues. A CBC assesses the shape, the quantity, and chemical content of your pet's red blood cells. These tests can detect a number of ailments, such as anemia (low red blood cells) and polycythemia (elevated red blood cells).

  • White blood cells - these cells typically respond to inflammation or disease. Your pet's overall white blood cell count is not only measured by a CBC, but additionally can provide for each different type of white blood cells. White blood cell counts that are higher than normal can indicate infection or inflammation and help to provide details regarding a potential diagnosis. Abnormally low white blood cell counts may indicate immunodeficiency, which is possible to reflect a more serious infection. Less commonly, dramatic white blood cell count abnormalities can indicate cancer.

  • Platelets - responsible for blood clotting. A low platelet count indicates that during a surgery, your furry friend may be at greater risk of blood loss.



What's the serum biochemistry?

The serum examines the levels of a number of compounds in the blood associated with organ function. The parameters that are assessed in a blood panel will be different depending the specific type of panel that your vet recommends; a bigger biochemistry panel may be required of younger pets, more so than adult pets. Generally, though, a serum will include results that evaluate your pet's liver, kidneys, blood glucose, serum proteins, and additional parameters.


  • Liver function is assessed through a number of values on the serum biochemistry. These values include alkaline phosphatase (ALP), alanine transferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), and total bilirubin (Tbili). Elevations in these values may suggest an increased risk of liver disease in your pet.

  • Kidney function is evaluated by measuring the blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine (BUN). Both of these substances are normally removed by the kidney. Blood levels of BUN and creatinine imply that they aren't being effectively removed by the kidney, because of dehydration or kidney disease.

  • Glucose is a measure of blood in blood. Elevated blood glucose levels can indicate diabetes.

  • Serum proteins include albumin (ALB), globulin (GLOB), and total protein (TP). Low protein levels are correlated with a number of health conditions. Pets with protein levels may experience healing that is delayed. Serum protein levels can indicate dehydration.

  • Electrolytes, such as potassium (K), sodium (Na), chloride (Cl), may show to be increased or decreased depending on the state of the disease and can affect surgical healing or suitability for anesthesia.


How might preanesthetic blood work affect my pet's treatment?


If your vet finds abnormalities in your pet's blood work, then there are several possible outcomes.


Some abnormalities are mild and unlikely to be clinically related. By way of example, a white blood cell count that is just marginally abnormal, in the absence of clinical signs, can be a symptom of stress rather than of any disease.


A elevated blood glucose without other abnormalities may also be viewed as anxiety. If your pet has a very small spike in level, your veterinarian may still decide it's safe to proceed with anesthesia. In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend rechecking the value to ensure that more abnormalities don't develop when elevation doesn't appear to be significant at the time of testing.


In some cases blood work detects abnormalities that can be corrected prior to anesthesia. For instance, if your pet's preanesthetic blood work indicates dehydration, your veterinarian may administer intravenous fluids for several hours. This allows your pet to become as clinically stable as possible, prior to getting anesthesia.




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