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Anesthesia and Your Pet

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Anesthesia and Your Pet

Many pet owners worry unnecessarily about anesthesia in their pets. Although anesthesia can never be completely free of risk, today's modern anesthetics make that risk very small. The same anesthetics that allow complicated surgeries such as heart and kidney transplants to be done on humans are used in pets as well. Even very frail animals can usually be anesthetized safely. In general, the risks from NOT performing a needed procedure, such as dental cleaning or tumor removal, are much higher than the risk from the anesthesia.

We use preoperative blood tests and radiographs (X-rays) to help us determine whether a procedure will be safe for your pet before it is performed.

We require preoperative blood screening for all pets before anesthesia is administered. Even young and apparently healthy animals can have serious organ dysfunctions which are not evident without such testing. Chest X-rays are taken if there is any suspicion of heart or lung disease, or cancer. An EKG (electrocardiogram) before anesthesia is also recommended to diagnose an abnormal heart rhythm, which could affect the safety of a procedure. An irregular heart rhythm during anesthesia, although rare, is the most common reason for death under anesthetic. A new test called a proBNP can also diagnose heart disease.

After your pet is admitted to the hospital, an examination will be performed to ensure that he or she is healthy enough for surgery and to look for any problems we could address while he or she is here, such as an ear or skin infection.

Pre-anesthetic testing is checked, as well as the patient record, to make sure we don’t miss any issues that would affect our anesthesia or fluid support, such as medication allergies or dehydration. An individual plan is made and documented for anesthesia and pain medication. Emergency drug dosages will be calculated in case they would be needed.

An IV catheter will be placed for fluid and medication delivery and anesthesia will be administered. IV fluids ensure your pet won’t become dehydrated from not eating and drinking on the day of the procedure. Fluid support helps the body to clear the anesthetic sooner and recover faster. The IV catheter itself provides quick access for emergency medications if they are needed.

Monitoring under anesthesia includes blood oxygen levels, heart rate, temperature and blood pressure. Low blood pressure and low temperature are common side effects of anesthesia, so we use warming devices to prevent hypothermia and extra fluids if needed for low blood pressure.

The anesthesia is always administered by certified and licensed veterinary technicians or doctors to ensure safety and proper dosing. Sometimes you will have choices to make regarding the type of anesthesia or pain medication to be used.

With proper care and monitoring, your pet should go home after anesthesia just as perky and healthy as when he arrived at the hospital, whether he or she is 16 months or 16 years of age.

If you have further concerns about anesthesia in your pet, we would be happy to discuss the
risks and benefits of any procedure with you and explain the exact protocol that will be used.
Please let us know!

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