Modern anesthetic drugs are significantly safer than those used in previous years, with fewer side effects.

In the modern veterinary facility, there are many different types of anesthesia available for use depending upon the sensitivity of your pet and the need for consciousness. The most common classes of anesthesia are for small animals (cats and dogs), large animals (horses), and exotic pets (birds, rabbits, guinea pigs). Each of these classes responds to anesthesia differently and has different complexities to consider while being sedated.

 The most common anesthesia used for the majority of surgical procedures of cats and dogs is general anesthesia, where an animal is rendered fully unconscious.  A balanced anesthesia protocol can be used whereby different drugs with different effects are used so that a high dose of just one drug can be avoided. For example, combining a sedative and an opioid will permit less inhalant anesthesia to be used, improving cardiovascular stability. 

 Through the use of various anesthetic agents, a veterinarian can perform procedures without the patient experiencing any pain or discomfort. In certain cases, such as dental procedures, the anesthetic is to keep the patient still to allow precision treatment to occur (unfortunately both people and pets move, even when you ask them kindly to stay in one position).

Why does anesthesia require blood work?

 Before an anesthetic is administered, it is recommended to run blood tests. While relatively safe for the majority of patients, some animals (and people) will not respond well to common anesthetics. To ensure the right anesthetic is being used, a blood test will determine compatibility and reduce the risk of fatality.

 Here are additional reasons a blood test before anesthesia is recommended:

  1. In healthy dogs and cats, the risk factor of anesthesia is 1 in 1,849; For sick dogs and cats, the risk factor changes dramatically to 1 in 73. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veterinary_anesthesia
  2. Avoid complications beyond the primary condition being treated by the surgery
  3. Detect hidden illness 

How do I prepare my dog or cat for anesthesia?

 Make sure your pet has fasted on the day of the procedure for at least 12 hours.

 This is very important your pet may vomit while under anesthesia, which can lead to respiratory problems if the vomit is inhaled – causing an increased risk of asphyxiation.

 Most anesthetic is not a single injection. A first injection or inhalant often provides pre-emptive pain relief or muscle relaxant. The second medication is usually injected to initiate loss of consciousness, commonly propofol. Modern drugs are so much safer than those used in previous years with fewer side effects.

 Once anaesthetized, a tube is passed through the patient’s mouth into the trachea to supply oxygen, maintain an open airway and to deliver anesthetic agents.

 Modern anesthetic drugs are quickly eliminated from the body and animals usually wake up rapidly. It may take some time before your pet is back to acting normal depending on the medications used, the procedure and the health status of the patient.

What do you do with your pet after the anesthetic?

 Your dog or cat will most likely act sluggish. This is normal and will generally wear off within half a day or so. Always listen to your veterinarian’s instructions and be mindful of any medications and feeding guides given. When in doubt, consult your veterinary office with any post-op questions or advice.

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