Click here to learn more.
Despite what I sometimes hear pet lovers say, my colleagues and I don’t typically suggest things your pet doesn’t need. But sometimes I think we fall short in explaining why what we’re suggesting is good medicine.
That’s often the case when it comes to diagnostic tests in advance of an anesthetic event.
These tests are necessary to help spot health problems that could cause difficulty when a pet is anesthetized. As veterinarians, we want to know what those health problems are and resolve them before surgery if we can. And if we can’t, we want to be prepared as best we can to handle any issues during surgery.
For young pets, the testing is pretty minimal. We start with a complete physical exam, which includes checking temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate. We’ll likely recommend bloodwork and possibly a urinalysis. For older pets, chest radiographs are often added. In younger pets, we’re usually looking for anemia or congenital problems, while in older ones, we’re watching for problems with the liver, heart and kidneys.
Do these precautions seem excessive to you? If they do, let me put it in perspective. What would you think if you were going to have surgery and your medical team offered you the option of skipping pre-anesthetic screening? Or never mentioned the tests at all, just did your surgery? You can’t imagine it, can you? And I’d bet if you did have surgery under such conditions, the state medical board would have something to say about it afterward.
If you wouldn't want to have surgery under those conditions, why would you want any different for your four-legged family member? You wouldn’t, and neither does your veterinarian. These recommendations are good medicine; by requiring pre-surgical testing, your veterinarian is doing her job to take the best care possible of your pet by lowering the odds of any surgery-related complications.
A final note: Don’t take your veterinarian’s pre-surgery instructions for granted. Typically food and water are withheld from pets the night before surgery to help prevent aspiration pneumonia. If your pet gets food or water by accident, call the vet that morning and fess up. Your veterinarian may wish to postpone, and while that’s not convenient for anyone, it is a decision made in your pet’s best interest, just like all the rest. (And don't forget to keep an eye on your pet after surgery!)
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Thank you for subscribing to Petwire. Look for the latest newsletter each Wednesday.
Firefighters saved Ashley the Lab from a
fire in her home and resuscitated her
using a pet oxygen mask.
We asked trainer Bill Berloni how he
prepared a 6-year-old rescue pup for her
debut role as Sandy in the Annie…
Think big dogs are more aggressive? Or
that they can’t live in apartments? We’re
here to dispel these…
While it’s likely to unleash a feline frenzy,
giving your cat too much of the ‘nip is not
something you need to…
From the water-loving Portuguese Water
Dog to the fetch-obsessed Labrador
Retriever, these breeds love to have fun.
In his home country of Thailand, the intelligent and attention-loving Korat is a living symbol of luck and prosperity.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.