A vet examines a dog's teeth.

At Bayshore Animal Hospital we are passionate about dental care for pets. We have likely educated you extensively about why regular dental examinations and dental cleanings under anesthesia are vital to your pet’s health and well-being. 

What we are not always so vocal about, though, is how anesthesia is one of the most serious and important aspects of our daily practice. It is our mission to be sure that your pet’s experience under anesthesia is as safe as possible. Under our AAHA Accreditation we go the extra mile to make a difference to your pet’s care, and performing blood work before pet dental exams are one of those things.

Why Blood Work?

In the veterinary world we tend to throw around the term blood work so often that we forget that the average person may not have a good grasp as to what that actually means.

When we use the word blood work we are referring to a battery of tests that check different parameters utilizing a pet patient’s blood. This panel most often consists of a chemistry panel, which looks at a varying amount of parameters involving organ function and body metabolism, and a complete blood count, which looks at red and white blood cell parameters as well as platelets.

We can gain a lot of information from a blood panel. Depending on the panel ordered, blood work can tell us about:

  • Kidney function
  • Whether the liver is under any stress or injury
  • Blood sugar levels
  • Electrolyte balance
  • Blood protein levels
  • Thyroid function
  • Red blood cell levels
  • Signs of infection or inflammation in the body (white blood cells)
  • Platelet numbers which can signal potential clotting problems

Blood work is not the answer to everything, as animals with serious issues can have normal blood work, and perfectly healthy patients may have changes. It can, however, help us to make sure all systems are in working order and tip us off to potential problems when taken into account with other findings from the pet’s physical examination, history, and other laboratory tests. 

How Blood Work Before Pet Dental Exams Helps Your Fur-Friend

While it would be absolutely wonderful to be able to do a complete dental examination in our pet patients without anesthesia, it is not. Even the sweetest dog or cat will not say “ahh” and let us see every surface of every tooth in the mouth. Add in the fact that good dental x-rays are a requirement in a good examination, and it’s obvious that our patients need to be asleep to do our job well and efficiently.

So how does blood work before dental exams factor into this? Blood work is important before any anesthetic experience. Knowing what is going on internally helps us to make the best choices for our patients.

Sometimes blood work will lead us to not proceed with the anesthetic procedure. If it does not appear safe, then we will weigh risks and benefits with you.

Many times we can postpone the dental examination until we can correct the problem of concern and proceed more safely at a later date.

Most often, blood work before pet dental exams allows us to make adjustments in our anesthetic procedures and drug selections to customize things to create the safest possible experience for your pet. For instance, we may:

  • Provide a patient with kidney disease with intravenous fluids before, during, and after the procedure instead of just during
  • Utilize a non-NSAID pain relief option for patients with kidney concerns
  • Choose to administer an antibiotic to a patient with white blood cell changes
  • Recommend a blood clotting panel for a patient with a low platelet count to ensure that it is safe to proceed.

Blood work before dental exams under anesthesia helps us to do our job better, and when we do our job better, we are accomplishing our goal of doing our absolute best to help your pet. 

As always, we are happy to discuss any questions that you may have about your pet, anesthesia, dental examinations, and anything else. Please call us any time. Your pet is our passion.