Pre-anesthetic blood work and your pet

A preoperative blood screening can help determine which anesthetic protocols are most appropriate for the pet.

One of the most common concerns animal guardians pose to small animal veterinarians involves the risks of putting their pets under general anesthesia for various surgical procedures. From common procedures performed on young pets (such as castration, spays and feline declaws) to dental cleanings, tumor removals, and other surgical procedures of older pets, one of the most important services a veterinarian can provide is blood testing before such surgical procedures are undertaken.

Not only can organ problems of the liver and/or kidneys be detected, but also rare clotting disorders that can increase bleeding tendencies during surgery. While in past decades such blood screening was considered optional for our animal companions, recent standards of practice in most states include offering, if not requiring pre-anesthetic blood work before most surgical procedures. Even if there are no obvious abnormalities detected, many veterinarians will use preoperative blood screens in determining which anesthetic protocols are most appropriate for their patients.

Along with a preoperative EKG and placement of intravenous catheter and IV fluid therapy during the surgical procedure, both animal guardians and veterinarians are taking all of the necessary precautions they can to minimize anesthetic and surgical risk in their patients.

Related Posts


  1. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 25, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Hi Simon: AFter almost 20 years of veterinary practice experience, I totally agree with your statements. Many years ago, pre-anesthetic blood work was rarely done, but now is an important standard of practice that needs to be offered to animal guardians before any surgical procedure, especially in middle age or older pets, but in young puppies and kittens as well. As you know clotting disorders, as well as genetic diseases like liver shunts can also be detected.

  2. Rhonda LauricellaMay 24, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    My dog was taken to Vet on 5/17 for a teeth cleaning.. He was nearly 8 years old. This was a vet that had not seen him before, but had seen my other Miniature Schnauzer. I was not ware that a blood test should have been done “pre” anesthetic. There wasn’t any mention of risk or a medical release/consent form. Needless to say, my dog did not live! The vet said that he just didn’t come out of the anesthesia. I was quite in shock as I was leaving – at the front desk they proceeded to hand me the bill – so I paid it not even thinking. After getting home and crying for the next 3-4 hours I started thinking about everything… I became very angry and decided to go back up there the next day and request a copy of “Jake’s” entire chart. THERE WAS NOTHING IN HIS CHART except for the treatment that I requested. They did not even weigh him – or atleast it was not documented. Jake never had one single health issue and was a very healthy dog. Is a pre-anesthetic blood test mandatory for dogs over 7 years old in the state of Texas? I have found this is a madated law in CA. I am planning to take this negligent Dr. to court, and hope that his license is taken away so he can not harm another precious baby. These are not animals, they are our family members. I am very sad, and don’t know when I will be okay with this. One does not expect to drop their pet off for a teeth cleaning and have him die. If anyone hs any helpful information for when I take this man to court, I would really appreciate it.

  3. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 24, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. Whenever an animal is placed under anesthesia, there is always a small risk. Blood work should always be offered in my opinion before anesthetic procedures, however I am not sure of laws in your state. You can certainlyi check with veterinary board. Once again my heart and thoughts are with you.

  4. Rhonda, your story touched me deeply. Please accept my condolences on the loss of your precious dog. I, too, consider my dogs family and know the pain of losing one. Just remind yourself that you had no fault in this and were only trusting a professional to care for your beloved pet. You were trying to provide the best care for Jake. You are in my prayers and so is Jake. God bless. Someday you & Jake will reunite on the rainbow bridge.

  5. My puppy was 6mos.old and had a slight bladder infection when I took her in. No blood test was taken before being spayed. She died in the recovery room.

  6. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 25, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    I am sorry for your experience. That is why I always recommend pre anesthetic blood work before any surgicla procedures.

Leave a Comment