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Diagnostic Blood Work

Why pre-anesthetic and diagnostic testing are important to your pet’s health

Why Test Before Anesthesia?

Peace of mind and reduced medical risk  - Knowing that your pet’s kidneys and liver are within normal limits and can properly handle the anesthesia, will help put your mind at ease.

Pet’s can’t tell us they’re not healthy  - You can’t always tell when your pet is sick. A healthy-looking pet can hide symptoms. A pet can easily lose 75% of kidney function before showing any signs of illness.

Optimized anesthesia protocol - If your pet’s kidneys and liver function are not within normal limits, the anesthetic protocol can be changed to safeguard your pet’s health and recovery. Baseline record and future health Testing gives us a baseline record so we can compare future results with past results.

DID YOU KNOW? Kidney Disease affects more than one million pets each year and is the leading killer in both dogs and cats. By detecting kidney disease early, treatment can begin early – extending your pet’s life and happiness.

A guide to your pet’s diagnostic blood work


Albumin (ALB) A protein produced by the liver. Reduced levels can point to chronic liver or kidney disease, intestinal disease, or intestinal parasites such as hookworms.

Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) -An enzyme that becomes elevated with liver disease or injury.

Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP)- An enzyme produced by the cells lining the gall bladder and its associated ducts. Elevated levels can indicate liver disease or Cushing’s syndrome.

Amylase (AMYL) -An enzyme produced by the pancreas to aid in digestion. Elevated blood levels can indicate pancreatic and/or kidney disease.

Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) -BUN is produced by the liver and excreted by the kidneys. Abnormal levels can indicate dehydration and liver or kidney abnormalities.

Calcium (Ca2+) -Increased levels can be seen with diseases of the parathyroid gland and kidneys, or as an indicator or certain types of tumors.

Cholesterol (CHOL) -Elevated levels of cholesterol are seen in a variety of disorders including genetic disease, liver and kidney disease, and hypothyroidism.

Blood Glucose (GLU) -High levels can indicate diabetes. In cats, high levels can indicate stress, which can merely be a result of the trip to the veterinary hospital. Low levels indicate liver disease, infection, or certain tumors.

Phosphorus (PHOS) -Elevated levels can be an indicator of kidney disease.

Total Bilirubin (TBIL) -Bilirubin is secreted by the liver into the intestinal tract. Bilirubin levels are useful in diagnosing anemia and problems in the bile ducts.

Total Protein (TP)- The level of TP can detect a variety of conditions, including dehydration and diseases of the liver, kidney, or gastrointestinal tract.


Sodium, Potassium, Chloride (Na+, K+, Cl-) The balance of these electrolytes is vital to your pet’s health. Abnormal levels can be life threatening. Electrolyte testing is important in evaluating vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and cardiac symptoms.


Hematocrit (HCT) Provides information on the amount of red blood cells (RBCs) present in the blood. A low hematocrit indicates anemia.

Complete Blood Count (CBC) A CBC provides detailed information on red blood counts (RBCs), white blood counts (WBCs) and platelets. The total WBC and differential (individual cell counts) can indicate infection, leukemia, stress, inflammation, or an inability to fight infection. Low platelets can indicate a bleeding problem. Surgery can be delayed if anemia, infection, or especially a low platelet count is present. These conditions can cause serious surgical complications.

Morphologic Inspection Looking at the cells through a microscope can provide information on the type of anemia or inflammation, or other abnormalities such as leukemia.

This is a measurement of the level of thyroid hormone circulating in the blood stream and is helpful in identifying thyroid disease. Thyroid disease occurs in both dogs and cats, and can have a serious impact on health if left untreated.

The urine contains by-products from many organs such as the kidneys, liver and pancreas. Abnormal levels of these by-products can indicate disease including diabetes, liver, and kidney disease.

Detects heart rate and electrical rhythm. Certain abnormal rhythms and heart rates can be dangerous to animals undergoing anesthesia.

If your pet has to be anesthetized for surgery or any other procedure, pre-anesthetic blood testing is strongly recommended. Although anesthesia is extremely safe, if your pet has any hidden health problems, complications can occur during or after the procedure. A simple blood test will give your veterinarian information that can uncover potential medical problems prior to anesthesia and surgery. Blood work allows us to check critical bodily functions, such as the liver and kidneys. Regardless of age, physical examination or medical history, it is always in the best interest of your pet to have blood testing done.

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    ABC Veterinary Hospital
    330 Rancheros Dr
    Suite 102
    San Marcos, CA 92069
    (760) 471-4950

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