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The Benefits of Pre-Anesthetic Testing for Your Pet

The Benefits of Pre-Anesthetic Testing for Your Pet

The well-being of your pet is important when they’re undergoing anesthesia for any surgery or other procedure. Although the medications used during anesthesia are safe, it’s important to understand that all anesthetic procedures carry some degree of risk – even for healthy pets.

What is pre-anesthetic testing?

To reduce the risks of anesthesia, your veterinary team will evaluate your pet’s health before the procedure happens. This includes performing a complete physical examination and laboratory testing to create a total picture of your pet’s current health status. During the procedure, your veterinarian will use state-of-the-art monitoring equipment and laboratory test results to devise the ideal anesthetic protocol for your pet.

Common pre-anesthetic tests

Blood chemistry tests. This test provides useful information on the health and function of your pet's organ systems and fluid balance.

Complete blood count (CBC). This test provides information on red and white blood cell counts. A CBC can detect conditions like leukemia and anemia and assess stress levels, inflammation, infection, as well as blood clotting capabilities.

Coagulation tests. A blood test that evaluates the function of important clotting factors that are involved in your pet’s ability to stop bleeding. Genetics, medications, and some toxins can affect the function of these clotting factors.

Urinalysis (urine test). Urine testing may be used to evaluate urinary tract and systematic diseases. A urinalysis helps to assess how well the kidneys can concentrate urine, if there is a protein loss, and if there are any signs of infections or abnormalities in the urine.

Why is pre-anesthetic testing beneficial for you and your pet?

  • Testing helps evaluate the safety of medications to be administered. Your pet will be given one or more medications to prepare for sedation and/or general anesthesia. Diagnostic tests help determine which medications are safe and appropriate for your pet, and blood tests evaluate your pet’s ability to metabolize these medications.
  • Testing helps identify hidden disease. Abnormalities that are detected before the procedure can help reduce the likelihood of anesthetic complications. Early identification of a problem can help prevent more obvious signs of illness and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.
  • Testing establishes healthy baseline values. Many pets show subtle changes in their blood values over time. These changes cannot be identified without establishing normal values for your individual pet. Performing diagnostic testing when your pet is healthy and prior to anesthesia establishes values to monitor for disease as your pet ages.
  • Testing provides peace of mind to you, the pet owner. You and your veterinary team are doing everything possible to ensure a positive outcome for your pet’s procedure. Pre-anesthetic testing is a fast, easy, and affordable way to verify your pet’s health and give you peace of mind before the procedure.

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Michelle Larsen, DVM

Michelle Larsen, DVM

Dr. Michelle Larsen graduated from Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in 2011. Following graduation, she completed a 1-year small animal medicine and emergency rotating internship at The Hope Center for Advanced Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, VA.

She joined Zoetis through the Abaxis acquisition in 2018 and is currently the Medical Lead for Diagnostic Instruments. Prior to joining the Abaxis Professional Services Veterinary team, Dr. Larsen was the Clinic Manager at the Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners in Avondale, AZ and practiced emergency medicine exclusively. She currently practices general practice and urgent care relief and is active in organized veterinary medicine. She most recently was the 2019 president of the Denver Chapter of the Colorado VMA.