Most people are very concerned about whether anesthesia is safe, especially for an older pet. We hear it all the time at the clinic: questions about the safety, hesitation about consenting to procedures or flat out refusing to put their pet under anesthesia, despite them having dental disease or other painful conditions.
Anesthesia has come a long way over the past years and now it is safer than ever with the help of a highly trained Veterinary team.
The truth is your animal is at a bigger risk of going to the local dog park then going under anesthesia! Only 1 in 100,000 pets will have some sort of reaction to anesthesia and that includes mild to severe reactions.
So what can we do to make the anesthesia as safe possible? It requires effort from pet owners as well as your Veterinary team to reduce the risk to your pet.
- Prior to the procedure we will ask you to “fast” or withhold food from your pet. This is important to prevent any regurgitation of food/water under anesthetic. Regurgitation can lead to life threatening pneumonia and damage to the esophagus from stomach acid.
- Inform your Veterinary Team about any medications your pet is on. Some medications can react with the anesthetics used during a procedure. If you inform the Veterinary Team of what medications your pet is on, we can ensure there are no adverse reactions due to medications. This includes prescription medications, over the counter medications as well as supplements
- Keep your pet at a healthy body weight. Pets that are overweight have more difficulty breathing under anesthesia which can lead to complications. Keep your pet fit will decrease their risk.
- Perform a full exam of the pet before anesthesia. Our Veterinary Team will due a full nose to tail exam on your pet and if there are any abnormalities that were not discussed with you, we will call you and discuss our findings. Some of these findings may mean your pet needs treatments prior to proceeding with anesthesia.
- Perform pre-anesthetic blood work. This allows the Veterinary Team to identify any underlying conditions that may not be picked up on a physical exam. If there are underlying conditions, the anesthesia may be postponed to address any of these conditions. Some examples are: Diabetes, Kidney Disease and Liver Disease
- Place an intravenous catheter and administer IV fluids throughout the procedure. Having IV access before, during and after the procedure allows your Veterinary team to perform life saving measures immediately if they arise. Administering IV fluids throughout the procedure helps to keep your pets blood pressure in a safe range and it also keep your pet hydrated well which is important since we advised you to withhold food and water for your pet.
Most cases of anesthesia reactions are not spontaneous and your Veterinary Team is trained to identify these subtle signs before they become serious. Proper patient monitoring is one of the most important factors that affects safety in your pet’s anesthesia.
Did you know that we have a trained Veterinary Technologist monitoring your pet the whole time? They have specialized training in anesthesia and are able to ensure your pet is having a safe and comfortable procedure under anesthesia.
At Norsask Veterinary Group we monitor the same parameters as they do in humans under anesthesia and can adjust anesthetic levels based on your pet’s vital signs.
- An electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors your dog’s heart rate and rhythm. It can detect abnormal heartbeats called arrhythmias and low heart rates and we can treat if necessary.
- Body temperature is monitored throughout the surgical procedure. Anesthesia causes a decrease in body temperature (hypothermia). During the procedure we keep the patients warm with forced air heaters called Bair Huggers to prevent hypothermia. If we prevent a decrease in body temperature, we can prevent complications and longer recovery times.
- A blood pressure monitor measures your pet’s blood pressure. This gives us information on your pet’s cardiovascular condition as well as helps us make sure your pets organs are getting the blood flow they need.
- Pulse oximetry will tell us the amount of oxygen in your pet’s blood.
- Carbon dioxide (C02) is monitored as it helps determine if your pet is receiving the right amount of oxygen during anesthesia and is breathing well enough.
By now you can see that general anesthesia is a pretty big deal and we take anesthesia very seriously. We understand that there can be concerns about the anesthesia but we find many times that most of the fears are because people are not quite sure what the anesthesia entails. We encourage owners to ask many questions about the anesthetic or the procedure so that you are comfortable knowing that your pet is in good hands with well trained staff that will ensure the safety of your pet is top priority.
If our Veterinarians are suggesting anesthesia for your pet, they believe that the benefit outweighs the risk and can answer any questions that you may have about it.