Blood gas analysis can give the clinician essential information on the respiratory and metabolic status of a patient. Although often considered difficult or confusing to interpret due to the abundance of chemistry, with a little practice blood gases become easy and quick to interpret. In addition, they provide a vital insight into a patient's status that will ultimately influence how a case is managed. This article discusses the approach to blood gas interpretation and focuses on the interpretation of acid-base and oxygenation status in small animal patients. A second article, to be published in the March issue of In Practice, will discuss the role that electrolytes play in blood gas interpretation along with interpretation of ionised calcium and lactate results.
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