Anesthesia and Your Pet
Veterinarian Reviewed on January 25, 2012 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
So the time has come for your pet to be spayed or neutered and you, like many pet parents are concerned about your pet’s anesthesia. When your puppy or kitten is spayed or neutered, he/she is put under general anesthesia which means he/she is unconscious and not able to feel pain. There are always risks associated with any anesthetic, but the reality is your dog is more likely to be in a car accident than have any problems with a general anesthetic. There are some things that you can do to lessen any anesthetic risk.
1. Fasting–your veterinary office will instruct you to not feed your pet for several hours before the procedure. This is because if there is food in the stomach, it can trigger vomiting. Vomiting could cause inhalation of fluid or food into the lungs and aspiration pneumonia. This can be deadly and is prevented by fasting.
2. Presurgical examination–Your pet will be examined by the doctor to make sure he or she is healthy enough for an anesthetic. History including vaccinations, deworming and previous illness will be important for the doctor to know at this time.
3. Presurgical blood tests–Your veterinarian may recommend some blood work before anesthesia. This blood work allows us to look inside the dog or cat and find problems that are not visible on an physical exam. Kidney, and liver enzymes, sugar levels and red blood cell levels are tested. Some pets may have an EKG if it is warranted.
4. Intravenous fluids–These are highly recommended for all pets to maintain blood pressure and hydration. Fluids allow your pet to recover more quickly and the catheter provides an access incase emergency drugs are needed.
The above procedures are performed before the anesthetic is given. There are also safeguards that may be put into place during the procedure to be sure your pet is safe.
The veterinary technician: A technician or assistant is present during the anesthetic event to monitor your dog’s vital signs and to help adjust anesthetic levels, under the direction of the veterinarian.
A heart rate monitor counts your pet’s heartbeats per minute. Anesthesia and other factors, such as surgery itself, can affect heart rate. By monitoring your dog’s heart rate, your veterinarian can make anesthetic adjustments quickly.
An electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors your dog’s heart rate and heartbeat pattern. It can detect abnormal heartbeats called arrhythmias. If an arrhythmia is detected, your veterinarian can make suitable changes in anesthesia.
Core body temperature may be monitored, especially if your dog is undergoing a prolonged surgical procedure. Changes in body temperature can cause dangerous complications. Most pets are placed on a warming blanket to prevent hypothermia.
A blood pressure monitor measures your dog’s blood pressure. When used in conjunction with other monitoring equipment, it provides detailed information on your pet’s cardiovascular condition.
Pulse oximetry may be used to monitor the amount of oxygen in your dog’s blood and her pulse rate.
Carbon dioxide( C02) is often monitored together with oxygen, as it helps determine if your pet is receiving the right amount of oxygen during anesthesia.
All of these measures insure your pet is safe when he has an anesthetic. Not all hospitals provide this level of care for your pet. It is important to be informed when it comes to your pet’s anesthesia. Be sure to ask the right questions to insure safe and complete care for your beloved pet.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan