Why Pre-Anesthetic Testing?

Pre-Anesthetic testing is all about safety!

Q: Why is pre-anesthetic testing important?

 A: Although anesthesia and surgery today are very safe, some risks still exist. By performing a physical examination and conducting some simple tests before putting your pet under anesthesia, your veterinarian can minimize those risks even further.

Our pets can’t talk to us and tell us when they are not feeling well. Often, the only way we can find out something is wrong is through diagnostic testing. If something subtle is wrong, your doctors want to know before surgery. Then, steps can be taken to reduce potential complications. The anesthetic protocol can be adjusted, or treatment for the medical condition can be started before surgery to ensure that your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia.

Q: What can pre-anesthetic testing uncover?

A: Testing can identify many pre-existing conditions that may pose a significant health risk to your pet. These conditions include heart, liver, and kidney problems or systematic diseases such as diabetes or cancer. Testing may also determine if your pet has a clotting abnormality that could cause a problem during surgery. These tests will help ensure that your pet does not have additional risk factors that could complicate anesthesia and surgery.

 Q: But my pet’s surgery is routine. Is testing still needed?

A: Yes. Although procedures such as neuters, spays, and dental cleanings are often considered “routine,” they are actually invasive procedures that are anything but routine, especially if something goes wrong. Where surgery is concerned, pre-anesthetic testing can help ensure the best outcome for your pet. Pre-anesthetic testing gives your veterinarian the knowledge to keep your pet safe during surgical procedures.

Q: When will my veterinarian get the results?

A: Turnaround time on routine tests is generally 24 hours for routine tests.

Q: How is testing performed?

A: Your veterinarian will take a small amount of blood from your pet. This vial of blood is sent to a veterinary diagnostic laboratory to be analyzed by state-of-the-art equipment operated by experienced technologists and backed by board-certified pathologists. Board-certified specialists are available to discuss the results with your veterinarian, if necessary. Your veterinarian may recommend a more comprehensive profile if your pet is 7 years of age or older.

What Does It All Mean?

Your Guide to Common Pre-anesthetic Tests


A CBC, or complete blood count, analyzes the number, type, and in some cases, shape of the different blood cells in your pet’s body: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The CBC provides important information about your pet’s general health. This test can detect such medical conditions as anemia, leukemia, inflammation, infection, and bleeding disorders.


A chemistry profile contains tests for multiple chemical components in the blood’s serum. The typical pre-anesthetic chemistry profile checks the levels of many chemicals in your pet’s body.

Your pet’s diagnostic workup will be sent to a trusted, state-of-the-art veterinary laboratory that employs rigorous quality control and assurance programs. There, the same tests that are used in human medicine ensure your pet’s readiness for surgery.


  • Albumen-This is a protein produced by the liver. An abnormal result can help identify a problem with the liver, kidneys, or intestines.
  • Alkaline Phosphatase- Higher-than-normal results of this test can indicate a problem with liver function.
  • ALT- This is a more sensitive test for liver damage.
  • BUN- High levels of blood urea nitrogen (BUN) can indicate a problem with the kidneys; low levels may indicate a problem with liver function.
  • Creatinine- This test is extremely valuable in determining how well the kidneys are functioning.
  • Globulin- This is a component of total protein checking for underlying chronic illness and some types of cancer.
  • Glucose- If this number is too low, a pet is considered to be hypoglycemic; too high, and the pet is hyperglycemic. Hypoglycemia is a common problem in puppies as well as in animals with liver damage. Hyperglycemia can result from stress, excitement, and diabetes.
  • PT and PTT- These tests evaluate your pet’s blood-clotting system. This information is very important before surgery.
  • Total Protein- This test checks for dehydration.
  • T4 and Free T4- These are thyroid tests and they are important because dogs with low thyroid activity do not heal well.
  • Urinalysis-This test will reveal early kidney problems, diabetes and other medical problems
  • Urine Protein: Creatinine Ratio-This is a measurement of the amount of protein in the urine and if elevated indicates a kidney problem.

*Reproduced with permission of Antech Diagnostics.