Blood Testing

Why does my pet need a blood test?

Blood testing can be used to investigate disease or signs of poor health in your pet. It can also be used prior to anaesthesia, to monitor the effectiveness of your pet’s medication or screen your older pet for senior changes.

Why is blood testing important prior to surgery?

When a ‘healthy’ pet is anaesthetised for surgery the risk is small. However, if your pet is older or unwell complications can occur both during and after the anaesthetic procedure. Therefore in order to minimise the risk associated with anaesthesia, it is important to know the complete health status of your pet before the anaesthetic procedure.

Prior to anaesthesia we always obtain a complete history and perform a physical examination but other tests can be necessary to find out what’s happening on the inside. Occasionally a pet’s appearance can be misleading for example a cat can lose up to 75% of their kidney function before they show any signs of illness.

If the results of a pre anaesthetic blood test are normal, we can proceed knowing the anaesthetic risk is minimised. If the results are not within the normal ranges, we may alter the anaesthetic procedure. In some cases we may proceed as planned but provide medical support during the procedure, usually via an intravenous drip. This helps support the organs which metabolise the anaesthetic drugs helping to remove them from the system. In other cases, the test abnormalities may be significant enough to postpone the procedure in order to monitor and medically treat your pet.

Although performing these tests cannot guarantee the absence of complications, it can significantly minimise the risk to your pet and provide you and us with peace of mind.

What can we test?

Our in house laboratory can provide same day results for certain tests. This speed is essential for treating your pets.

Biochemistry

A biochemistry blood test measures enzyme levels, protein levels and waste products within the blood stream. Enzymes are chemicals which are often released in greater amounts during organ disease or infection. An abnormal result may indicate the presence of disease which can then be further investigated. There are various biochemistry tests which can be performed checking a range of organ function including the liver, kidneys and screening for diabetes.

Haematology

A haematology blood test gives an indication of the quantity and quality of all the various cells found in the blood.

These are:

  • Red blood cells (Erythrocytes)
  • White blood cells (Leucocytes)
  • Blood platelets (Thrombocytes)

Erythrocytes

Red blood cells carry oxygen via the haemoglobin around the body. The blood test can tell us the number of red blood cells present as well as how much haemoglobin is present. A decrease in the number of red cells and/or haemoglobin indicates anaemia and can be a sign of an underlying problem. An increase can be due to dehydration.

Leucocytes

White blood cells help to protect the body against infections such as bacteria or viruses. These are divided up into neutrophils, monocytes, eosinophils, basophils and lymphocytes. The haematology test measures the number, appearance and abnormality of all these cells. The results can help diagnose infection, inflammation and sometimes cancer.

Thrombocytes

Blood platelets play a vital role in blood clotting and it is vital to maintain adequate numbers in the circulation. The blood analysis gives us a general indication of the blood’s clotting ability. If the platelet level is low it can indicate problems with platelet production or haemorrhage.

Electrolytes

The levels of Potassium, Chloride and Sodium are measured. These are minerals and electrolytes which collectively help to maintain the blood and tissue fluids in a stable and balanced state. Disturbances in electrolyte levels are often caused by vomiting and/or diarrhoea and usually need to be corrected by intravenous fluids and/or supplementation.

We are also able to offer in house ‘snap’ testing for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, Feline Leukaemia, Canine and Feline Pancreatitis, Angiostrongylus Vasorum (Lungworm), and Canine Parvovirus.
Further testing of samples is performed at an external laboratory.

For more information please contact your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets.

Neutering Your Female Rabbit – Spay

What is a rabbit spay?
This operation involves surgical removal of the entire uterus (womb) and ovaries via a midline incision into your rabbit’s abdomen. Your rabbit will be admitted as a ‘day patient’ and following a pre-operative check by your veterinary surgeon, she will be given an injection of a combination of sedative and analgesic (pain killing) drugs to induce anaesthesia.

After surgery and following her recovery from the anaesthetic she will be ready to go home later the same day. You will be given full discharge instructions on how best to care for your rabbit after surgery and she will be checked by your veterinary nurse 3 days later to ensure the wound is healing. There are generally not any sutures that require removal  10 days later as we usually use intradermal  (under the skin) sutures in rabbits as they have a tendency to gnaw on them! We will however request a post operative check 10 days following surgery to ensure that their wound has completely healed. While the wound is healing we recommended only using newspaper as bedding as hay or sawdust can get caught in the wound and be a tract for infection. Hay should still be provided in the diet but not used as bedding. Your rabbit may go home with some pain relief medication for a few days. While the operation is more complicated than castration, it is still a routine procedure and their recovery is usually fairly quick.

What are the advantages?

  • No unwanted kittens (baby rabbits)
  • Reduced incidence of mammary tumours
  • No ovarian tumours
  • No uterine tumours (especially common in rabbits)
  • To help prevent behavioural problems such as aggression

Are there are disadvantages?

Any surgical procedure involving general anaesthesia carries a small risk but unfortunately rabbits do have an increased risk of death under anaesthesia. This is quite a complex issue but it is mainly due to them being prey animals which makes them respond to stress differently than cats or dogs. The physical and psychological effects of stress can unfortunately result in a fatality during surgery or in their recovery period. Luckily anaesthetic complications are relatively rare in rabbits and every care is taken to ensure this does not happen. Many advances have been made in regards to the anaesthetic agents used for rabbits. If you have any concerns relating to the anaesthetic please speak to your veterinary surgeon for more advice.

Following a stressful procedure like surgery, rabbits can often suffer from reduced gut motility or gut stasis. This is when their digestive system slows down.  It is vitally important that your rabbit continues to eat normally following surgery and any changes in their appetite should be reported to your veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse. Supportive care may be needed to increase your rabbit’s appetite. It is also helpful to monitor the faecal output of your rabbit following surgery and any reduction in droppings should also be reported.

Following neutering it is not uncommon for your rabbit to gain weight. This is due to their energy requirements decreasing due to the reduction in hormone production. Careful monitoring of their diet and an increase in exercise will help to ensure this doesn’t happen. Your veterinary nurse will be able to advise you further.

If you have 2 rabbits of a different sex living together you must ensure that they are kept separate for at least 6 weeks following surgery as they may still be capable of reproducing.

When to spay?

Rabbits can be spayed from 4 months of age or later in life if required. The anaesthetic risk increases in older rabbits so the surgery is best performed when your rabbit is still young to provide the optimum benefits.

Useful links:
Neutering Your Male Rabbit

Rabbit Castration Advice

Once you have made an appointment for your pet to be neutered, it is important that your pet eats as normal up to their operation, therefore food and water should NOT be removed the night before the procedure.

Once admitted they will be examined by your vet and given a health check.

Rabbits are given a combination of drugs to induce general anaesthesia.   Once your pet has had a health check and the vet is happy to proceed, the combination drug is given into the muscle.  This injection will take 5 – 10 minutes to take effect. They will then be under general anaesthesia.  He will then be transferred through to the Prep room and prepared for theatre.

An endotracheal tube may be placed into his trachea to maintain a clear airway for us to give him oxygen and if necessary a gaseous anaesthetic to maintain anaesthesia.

Castration 

Once asleep under anaesthetic he will be prepared for theatre.  His veterinary nurse monitors his anaesthetic while shaving an area of hair from his testicles.  Once the hair has been removed the area is then cleaned using an antiseptic soap. This procedure is carried out to reduce any bacteria on the skin and provide a sterile operation site. All the hair will grow back in time. He is then transferred to theatre.

The nurse will carefully monitor the anaesthetic during the surgery.  The vet will perform the castration by firstly making an incision in front of the scrotum. Each testicle is then clamped, tied off with suture material and then removed.  This is a permanent and irreversible procedure.

Once the surgery is complete another injection is then given into the muscle. This injection reverses the initial injection and can take a further 10 minutes for your pet to be fully awake. During this time he will be constantly monitored by the Hospital nurse and is kept warm.

Once he is sitting up and alert, the Hospital nurse will contact you to update you on their progress and arrange a collection time. On discharge a veterinary nurse will explain all the necessary post-operative care.

It is advised that rabbits are kept separate from entire females for 6-8 weeks to prevent any unwanted pregnancies.

We will only discharge a patient when we feel they are fully awake and are able to walk. Some pets take longer to fully recover than others and are treated on a case by case situation, so don’t panic if a late time is requested for collection.

Benefits of having your rabbit castrated:

  • Improves social interaction
  • Can reduce fighting with other rabbits (and guinea pigs if kept in mixed hutch)
  • Can be kept with entire female rabbits

Rabbit Spay Advice

Once you have made an appointment for your pet to be neutered, it is important that your pet eats as normal up to their operation, therefore food and water should NOT be removed the night before the procedure.

Once admitted they will be examined by your vet and given a health check.

Rabbits are given a combination of drugs to induce general anaesthesia.  Once your pet has had a health check and the vet is happy to proceed, the combination drug is given into the muscle.  This injection will take 5-10 minutes to take effect.  They will then be under general anaesthesia.  She will then be transferred through to the Prep room and prepared for theatre.

An endotracheal tube may be placed into her trachea to maintain a clear airway for us to give her oxygen and if necessary a gaseous anaesthetic to maintain anaesthesia.

Spay

Once asleep under anaesthetic she will be prepared for theatre. Her veterinary nurse monitors her anaesthetic while shaving an area of hair from the abdomen.  Once the hair been removed the area is then cleaned using an antiseptic soap. This procedure is carried out to reduce any bacteria on the skin and provide a sterile operation site. All the hair will grow back in time. She is then transferred to theatre.

The nurse will carefully monitor the anaesthetic during the surgery.  The vet will perform an ovariohysterectomy where the uterus and ovaries are removed.  This is a permanent and irreversible procedure.

Once the surgery is complete another injection is then given into the muscle. This injection reverses the initial injection and can take a further 10 minutes for your pet to be fully awake. During this time she will be constantly monitored by the Hospital nurse and is kept warm.

Once she is sitting up and alert, the Hospital nurse will contact you to update you on their progress and arrange a collection time. On discharge a veterinary nurse will explain all the necessary post- operative care.

We will only discharge a patient when we feel they are fully awake and are able to walk. Some pets take longer to fully recover than others and are treated on a case by case situation, so don’t panic if a late time is requested for collection.

Benefits of having your rabbit spayed:

  • No unwanted kittens
  • Reduced incidence of mammary tumours
  • No ovarian tumours
  • No uterine tumours (especially common in rabbits)