For some procedures, your pet will be administered general anesthesia, so that he or she will be unconscious and not feel pain. Many Pet owners worry about potential complications of general anesthesia. We can assure you that modern anesthesia is generally quite safe; current statistics suggest that 5/10,000 healthy dogs and 11/10,000 healthy cats experience an anesthetic complication, up to and including death. The risk is only slightly higher than it is for humans, and increases for pets with pre-existing diseases.
To further lower any risk, we perform a physical examination and blood tests ahead of time to identify underlying health issues. In some pets, preoperative imaging (X-ray and ultrasound) as well as ECG, etc., are recommended. In elective anesthetic cases, we require proper prevention in order to reduce chances of infection in your pet, and other pets in the Hospital. In addition, we follow a specific anesthetic protocol, including monitoring vital signs during the procedure, to ensure the safety of our Patients.
We begin most general anesthetic procedures by administering a sedative to help the pet relax and decrease any anxiety and pain. We then administer an intravenous drug to provide complete anesthesia and place a breathing tube into the patient’s trachea (windpipe). To maintain the state of unconsciousness, we deliver a gas anesthetic in combination with oxygen through the breathing tube. We monitor vital signs via instruments and by hand/eye observation continuously until the pet is conscious and breathing tube is out, as well as for the rest of the day.
Pre-existing conditions may increase anesthetic risk. Those include heart disease, brachycephalic syndrome (short face animals), liver and kidney disease, cancer, obesity, and many others. Patients under 10 pounds and seniors over 12 years are also at increased risk. We will discuss individual anesthetic assessment for your Pet, and in some cases referral to a specialist may be the safest option.
Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about your pet receiving general anesthesia, and ask any questions you may have regarding the procedure, recovery, potential complications, and aftercare.