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Anesthesia: What to Expect

There is always a risk with anesthesia however, we try to minimize that risk as much as possible by using the safest anesthesia as well as intensive monitoring of the patient. We begin with a thorough evaluation of the pet  with a complete physical exam. We design anesthetic protocols to be specific for each patient. 

Preanesthetic blood testing is important to ensure your pet is healthy and to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle anesthetic.  If there is a problem with the bloodwork and abnormalities are noted, we can either alter the protocols or delay the procedure.  For geriatric or ill patients, additional testing may be recommended to include, x- rays, additional blood testing, EKG, etc. 

Every patient is monitored during anesthesia using  state of the art equipment that helps enable us to track EKG, blood pressure, oxygenation, heartrate and carbon dioxide levels.  The monitors are paired with a trained technician who will closely monitor your pet until he/she is awake. 

Injectable anesthesia as well as gas anesthesia will be used and tailored to your pet specifically.  A premedication will also be used before the procedure to decrease the amount of anesthesia required and to prevent pain associated with surgery. Intravenous fluid therapy will also be used to help maintain normal blood pressure during anesthesia and allow for rapid administration of medications in case of an emergency situation.

Before your pet undergoes anesthesia, your pet will be examined and preanesthetic bloodwork will be recommended.  Your veterinarian wants to make sure the animal is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia. Your veterinarian or veterinary technician will explain the procedure to you and discuss the patient assessment and risks, the proposed anesthetic plan, and any medical or surgical alternatives before obtaining informed consent to anesthetize your pet and perform the procedure. To help reduce the risk of complications, it is very important that you follow the directions of the veterinarian and veterinary technician, especially regarding patient preparation.

Before the Day of the Procedure

  • Follow the veterinarian’s/veterinary technician's directions.
  • You might be asked to change the medications you give your pet. You could be asked to skip a dose or to give a different medication.
  • You will be asked to withhold food after 8pm the night before surgery to reduce the risk of regurgitation and aspiration—breathing in the contents of the stomach and gastric juices into the lungs.
  • Water will be withheld after 12pm the night before surgery. 
  • If your pet has diabetes, your veterinarian might not require fasting or might instruct you to adjust your pet’s insulin.

On the Day of the Procedure

Before and during the Procedure

As the veterinary team prepares your pet for the procedure, your veterinarian will:

  • Prepare your pet for anesthesia.
  • Begin to implement your pet’s individual anesthesia plan.
  • Make sure your pet is monitored throughout the procedure and during recovery.
  • Recognize and quickly respond to any complications if they develop.
  • Assess and manage your pet’s potential pain level before, during, and after the procedure.

After the Procedure

When your pet is awake, aware, warm, and comfortable, he or she will be discharged. But first, the veterinarian or veterinary staff will:

  • Review the procedure and how it went.
  • Explain follow-up care, including when your pet can begin to eat and drink.
  • Tell you when to resume current medications.
  • Tell you how to give new medications, if needed.
  • Explain how to recognize signs of complications in your pet. It is important that you call the veterinarian’s office immediately if your pet has a complication.
  • Tell you when to bring your pet back for a re-check.
  • Explain all after care instructions and give you a written copy.