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
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!
Reducing Anaesthetic Risk
Q. How do you make an anaesthetic safe for my pet?
A. Anaesthetic safety is a very big focus for us. We use a combination of tactics in order to reduce anaesthetic risk as much as we possibly can.These tactics include patient warming, fluid therapy, use of the best quality suture material and drug/medications, and of course monitoring using our state of the art technology. One of the biggest ways we reduce anaesthetic risk is by assigning a dedicated nurse to each patient admitted to hospital. This means your pets nurse will be with your pet every step of the way, and will monitor their progress before, during and after their surgical procedure.
- Pre-surgery blood testing: Reducing the risk of anaesthesia to your pet begins before your pet is even anaesthetised! By performing screening blood tests, we can check essential body functions, like the liver and kidneys, that cannot be checked with an external physical exam. Please read through our page on pre-surgery blood testing.
Dedicated Nurse: We strongly believe that one of the biggest contributing factors to our spotless anaesthetic record, is due to our dedicated nurses. Every patient that is admitted to hospital will have a nurse dedicated to their care. This nurse is responsible for your pets care right from the very moment they are put into bed by ensuring your pet is warm, comfortable and as relaxed as possible, through to monitoring them every second they are under anaesthetic and of course all the way through their recovery until your pet comes home. This constant care by the same nurse allows our nurses to bond with your pet and ensure their comfort throughout their entire stay.
Patient Warming: We have invested in a state of the art patient warming system to help our patients maintain their body temperature during their anaesthetic procedure. This improves anaesthetic recovery and reduces the risk of post-operative complications. Our patient warming system is called a Hot Dog system, which leads to endless jokes!
Intravenous Fluid Therapy: All patients have a catheter placed in their vein. This allows for us to administer intravenous fluids which reduce anaesthetic risk. Intravenous fluids assist the liver and kidneys in processing the anaesthetic medications, while also keeping the patients blood pressure at a safe and stable reading. Having catheter access also means we can improve patient outcomes in the unlikely event of an emergency.
- Best quality suture material and drugs: Yes, there are different levels of quality in both materials and medications. We only ever use materials and medications that are of the highest quality. We believe that all animals deserve nothing but the best, and we put this belief into practice every day.
- State of the art monitoring technology: Just like when a human gets anaesthetised, we use state of the art monitoring equipment to give us a continuous stream of information about how your pet is going under their anaesthetic. We use a multiparameter machine which gives us data on your pets ECG (electrocardiogram), SpO2 (their blood oxygen levels), respiratory rates and heart rates. Respiratory and heart rates are also monitored continuously by your pets dedicated nurse. Along with our multiparameter machine, we also monitor blood pressure through use of the PetMap machine, and temperature.