Many pet owners want to forgo medical procedures for their pets strictly out of fear of the affects of anesthesia. Throughout the life of your pet, the need for anesthesia is not often; however, anesthesia is required for procedures such as spay and neuter dental work, any surgical procedure, and at times, anesthesia is necessary in an emergency situation. Knowing that anesthesia is safe can take the edge off of an owner’s fear.
Before allowing FiFi or Fido to be placed under an anesthetic, the veterinarian must be aware of all medical problems your pet may have experienced in the past. A pre-anesthetic assessment should always be performed, even in the case of an emergency. Blood tests help the veterinarian determine if the pet’s liver and kidneys are working at their maximum performance. Since these two organs metabolize, and remove anesthetic from the body, it is essential that they function normally.
The blood test will also assist the veterinarian in choosing which anesthetic drug will be better when placing your pet in a state of sleep. There may be a need for more testing if the veterinarian finds something that concerns him during his evaluation of your pet.
Pre-anesthetic evaluation is a must for the senior pet since aging pets face a higher risk of anesthesia related complications. These complications can be due to organ problems or disease, which is common with aging. My personal veterinarian will not use an anesthetic on any of pets if they are 10 years and older without extensive blood testing. When an emergency arises with my senior pets, the family vet uses pain medications to keep them comfortable, if necessary, until the test results are back.
Small pets such as dogs or cats less than four pounds need careful handling before administering anesthesia. The vet must know the exact weight of these animals to prevent an overdose of anesthetic. Small pets may also be at higher risk of getting cold during their time under anesthesia. If a small pet becomes chilled while asleep, this can cause hypothermia. Your veterinarian team will use warming blankets and monitoring equipment to make sure that your small pets stay at a normal and constant temperature.
Over-weight or Obese pets can also be at risk of lung and heart problems. These organs must work harder on an obese animal making them more susceptible to weakness and disease. Anesthetic is a challenge for these two organs in an otherwise healthy weight pet but can cause some concern for the obese pet.
Preparing Your Pet for Anesthesia
Not only is the pre-examination necessary, before giving your pet an anesthetic, it will be required to share any other previous conditions and medications with the vet. Be sure to share with the veterinarian any non-prescribed medications such as aspirin, herbs, supplements for joints, etc. Do not assume that a natural product will have no effect on the pets system during anesthesia, as they can and sometimes do cause reactions with some types of anesthetic.
Be sure to fast your pet from midnight the day before surgery. Fasting means no food or water at all for 12-hours prior to the scheduled surgery. If the surgery is an emergency, then your veterinarian will make the determination on fasting and the appropriate medical procedure that needs to be followed.
The veterinarian will monitor your pet while they are under anesthesia. Most clinics have technicians in the surgical suite assisting the veterinarian, checking on instrument measurements, pet’s blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and their overall health throughout the entire procedure. It is always beneficial, however, to ask the veterinarian (if he is not your regular vet) to put your mind at rest and be sure that there are other assistants in the surgical suite.
Many veterinary practices now have anesthesia specialists on hand at their clinics. These specialists have extensive training in the art of administering, monitoring, and types of anesthetic that can be used to care for pets.
Keeping pets healthy, at their ideal weight, and keeping them up to date on vaccinations and care, is one powerful way to put your mind at rest if the need for anesthetic happens. A healthy pet will do well under anesthetic. However, if your pet is in poor condition and needs emergency care then by all means get your veterinarians advice on what steps are most beneficial for your pets well being.
Montavilla Animal Clinic, Portland, Oregon