A common misconception about Elderly pets is that they’re TOO OLD to undergo anesthesia for surgery. This is simply not true. Yes, Senior pets can bring more issues to the table, but that does not disqualify them from getting the proper care they need.
Several steps can be taken prior and during surgery to help the doctor better understand the inner workings of your pet and know how to proceed with surgery. These results can tell us if we need to postpone surgery, use a different anesthetic, or even just a different dosage for the anesthetic. That’s why those pre-surgical tests are so important!
The first option is Blood Work. Pre-surgical bloodwork typically consists of two different blood tests. The first test is called a Complete Blood Count (or CBC). This basic blood test shows us the levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, which can be helpful in diagnosing anemia (low red blood cells), systemic infections, and potential blood clotting deficiencies.
The second blood test is called a Chemistry, which will show the doctor how the kidneys and liver are working. They play a huge part in how the body metabolizes all of the sedative/anesthetic medications the animal will be given before and during surgery. Because of this, it is very important for us to know there are no kidney or liver issues before we put your pet under anesthesia, especially if they are older.
Another screening test that we can use is an electrocardiogram (also called an EKG or ECG), this is a test that records the electrical activity of their heart through small electrode patches attached to the skin on their legs. An electrocardiogram is used to reveal abnormalities of heart rate and electrical rhythm (arrhythmias) so we can simply adjust the anesthetic protocol which makes a huge difference for your pet’s recovery.
So the next time your Doctor recommends pre-surgical blood work or EKG, you can rest easy knowing they will safely undergo anesthesia and have the best recovery possible.