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Why Does My Dog Need Blood Work before Anesthesia?

Posted March 15, 2015 in Dog Checkups & Preventive Care

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. His website is www.DrPhilZeltzman.com. He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” (www.WalkaHound.com).

Zee Mahmood, a veterinary technician in Reading, PA, contributed to this article.

dog at veterinarian

Before your dog goes under anesthesia for surgery or dental work, your veterinarian will require blood work. Why do we ask for blood work? What's the whole point? Is it a scam? Is it a way to get more money out of you? Is it a conspiracy by veterinarians who want to retire early?

Blood work is actually the easiest, fastest, cheapest and least invasive way to investigate, discover and monitor many health conditions. It is typically either sent to an outside lab or analyzed in-house, (i.e. at the clinic). Your dog's blood work is handled by well-trained technicians and performed on sophisticated, automated machines. The price of blood work is based on the cost of such advanced and accurate machines, sample preparation, sample handling by the nurses and the analysis by the veterinarian.

Why is blood work performed?
There are several reasons for this test, all with one goal in mind -- making sure that your dog is healthy enough for anesthesia and surgery. Since your dog will most likely not tell the veterinarian what might be wrong, your veterinarian can use your dog's blood work to get a clear picture of what is going on beneath the surface.

What can be found in blood work?
There are two main components to routine blood work: the Complete Blood Count (or CBC) and the chemistry. The CBC provides detailed information about the various blood cells and platelets. Low counts of certain blood cells can indicate hidden conditions such as anemia, bleeding or even bone marrow or immune system disorders. High counts of certain blood cells can indicate conditions such as dehydration, inflammation or infection.

In addition to analyzing the blood cells, your veterinarian can look at the function of your dog's organs by looking at the blood chemistry.

The chemistry consists of a panel of various proteins, enzymes and other chemicals in the bloodstream, these levels can indicate healthy or unhealthy conditions of the organs. Liver function is analyzed to detect liver disease, Cushing's disease, trauma or the presence of a liver shunt, a condition that causes blood circulation to bypass the liver. Eliminating

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Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and author. His traveling practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his website at www.DrPhilZeltzman.com, and follow him at www.facebook.com/DrZeltzman.