When patients present to our hospital for procedures that involve anesthesia, it is considered "standard of care" to run blood work prior to the procedure being performed. There are two basic protocols; one for animals less than 7 years of age and the second for animals age 7 and older. The purpose of the blood work is to ascertain if the patient appears to be healthy enough to safely undergo an anesthesia event. This information is another piece of the puzzle and must be combined with the patient's history, physical exam findings and the clinical judgement of the supervising doctor. The testing looks at the liver, kidneys, blood sugar, electrolytes, cell counts and many more factors that are important when considering anesthesia.
For animals less than 7 years of age, we consider the blood work requirement to be current if completed in the prior 12 month period. For those patient's 7 years of age and older, the tests must have been done in the preceding 6 months. It is important to understand that although chronologically the time frames are 6 and 12 months, this represents a 5-7 year period of time in the life of a dog or cat depending on the breed.
Client's often will ask for permission to waive the requirement if the pet's lab work is "close" to the time frame considered to be standard of care. Recently, we had a patient present for removal of a suspicious growth. Blood work had been run on this patient 6 months and one week prior. Fortunately for the pet we did not waiver on this requirement as the patient had an 8-fold increase in liver enzymes compared to the lab tests run just 6 months prior.
It is commonplace anytime a human enters a hospital for a medical procedure that involves anesthesia, the doctors and staff will perform blood testing in attempt to detect any condition that may cause the procedure to be altered, delayed or eliminated. The same safety precautions are in effect in veterinary medicine and it all boils down to the concern for the safety of our patient's.
Please feel free to discuss with our doctors and staff any concerns you have when your pet presents for a procedure that involves sedation or anesthesia.