Our policy at Zillmere Vet is that every single patient will have a blood test performed before their surgical procedure. We believe that this is very important to the safety of your pet by reducing the risk of anaesthesia. Young pets and more well seasoned pets will have different blood test requirements based off their age. This page is designed to help pet parents decide which blood test they should run on their fur baby, and understand why we run blood tests before a surgical procedure.
Pre-Surgery Blood Testing Questions and Answers
Q. Why are screening blood tests so important?
A. Pets age very quickly in comparison to humans. On average we approximate that this is about 7 pet years to every one human year, depending on the breed/size of your pet. From this, running a blood test on a pet just ONCE A YEAR is similar to running a blood test on a human once every seven years. Pets also cannot speak, and thus cannot tell us if they are feeling off colour, or if they have any other indicators of illness. In fact, animals actually mask signs of illness until the late in the course of the disease. This is a retained instinct from back when they were in the wild and were members of a pack or colony. As a result of all of this, by performing regular screening blood tests, we can look for subtle changes that cannot be examined on an external physical exam before the disease progresses to a critical stage. Regular testing will show up these subtle changes and we can track the disease and intervene early, giving your pet the best possible outcome.
Q. Okay, so why is it so important to run one before an anaesthetic or surgical procedure?
A. While we have chosen our specific anaesthetic protocols to be as safe as possible and have minimal effects on your pet, all anaesthetic medications will have a small impact on your pet. It is important to know that the liver and kidneys are functioning properly before we administer these medications. Similarly, we also test the hydration status of your pet before an anaesthetic, and this is important information when planning your pets intravenous fluid therapy. Other useful information we can gather from blood tests includes checking red and white cell counts, platelet counts, other blood chemistry information, as well as a full overview of all internal body functions, based on the test chosen to run.
Q. Which test do I run on my pet?
A. When deciding which test to run on your pet, we separate our patients into two categories; Category A) which includes all cats and dogs under the age of 8 years; and Category B) which is all cats and dogs over the age of 8 years. Category B represents our more senior pets who require more intensive testing to ensure the anaesthetic is as safe as possible. We have listed the three options below, however, please do not hesitate to speak to us regarding your pet and their specific requirements.
For Category A) Pets: there is a choice of THREE blood tests to run before a surgical procedure:
Tier 1. Basic Testing:
Our basic test comprises of running a small blood test in house on the day of your pets procedure, before they have any medications. This test checks ONE of their kidney functions ONLY. Along with this test we also check your pets hydration status. This is a FREE test and will not cost you anything extra to run.
Tier 2. Baseline Testing:
This test is also run in house on the day of your pets procedure, before the have any medications. It is more comprehensive than the basic test, and checks for SIX different body functions, as well as your pets hydration status. We check different functions of the liver and kidneys which play a major role in processing medications used for your pets surgery. Pain relief medications in particular can affect the liver and kidneys. If there are any concerns on the blood test, then this could indicate we either need to change our anaesthetic protocol or investigate further, giving your pet the safest possible experience. The cost of this test is $75.50.
Tier 3. Comprehensive Testing:
This test is our most comprehensive test available, and must be run prior to the day of your pets surgery, as the test sample is sent off to our external laboratory for analysis. This test checks for 26 different body functions, as well as testing your pets haematology, ie, red cell count, white cell count, platelets and more. As you can see, this test gives us the most information about your pet, allowing us to see the full picture of what is going on internally. The cost of this test is $103. Please note, an appointment will need to be made between 1 - 3 days in advance of the surgery, as results take 24hours to process. There is no additional cost for the collection of the sample.
For Category B) Pets: Only Tier 2 and Tier 3 are applicable in terms of choosing which blood test to run. The Tier 1 Basic test does not provide us with enough information to provide a safe anaesthetic for senior pets, as internal body changes are quite common as pets age (just like in people!)
Q. How do you collect the sample?
A. Blood samples are most commonly taken from a vein in your pets front leg. In some small animals, for example cats, the sample is collected faster by using a vein in the neck, and so may also be taken from this location. In order to collect the sample, we need to shave a small patch of fur, but don't worry, the fur will grow back quickly!
Okay, I've decided on a blood test. What do I need to know about the surgery?