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Anesthesia for Dogs

Most dogs are given anesthesia when they are spayed or neutered, and the majority of them will require it at least once throughout their lives. Our four-legged pets, like us, may require anesthesia as part of a surgery or procedure. Today, our Yucaipa vets discuss what you should know about anesthesia for dogs.

In what situations is anesthesia used?

Some veterinary procedures, such as dentistry, spaying and neutering, and surgery, must be performed while your pet is sedated. Anesthesia is a controlled state of unconsciousness in which your pet does not feel pain or move.

Most healthy pets, including senior pets, have no problems with anesthesia, and the dangers are generally tied to the treatment being performed rather than the anesthetic itself.

What are the risk factors of anesthesia?

When we employ any anesthetic drug, there is always the possibility of an unpleasant reaction. Patients who are sedated lose their typical reflex capacity to swallow. If there is food in the stomach, the dog may vomit while under anesthesia or shortly afterward.

Because of breed, size, health, or age, some dogs have a higher anesthetic risk. Because of changes in or immaturity of some of their body's organs or systems, older dogs and very young dogs can also be more vulnerable to complications while under anesthesia.

Almost half of all canine deaths caused by anesthetics occur within the first few hours of surgery. There are always risks when administering any anesthetic medication to a patient, regardless of how long the patient remains sedated. Reactions can be mild to severe, with a variety of symptoms, including edema at the injection site. Your veterinarian's advice to fast before anesthesia is crucial for lowering the risk to your dog.

How can I reduce the risk of anesthesia-related complications in my dog?

Here are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of anesthesia-related complications:

  • Let your veterinarian know if your pet has ever reacted to sedation or anesthesia.
  • Make sure your veterinarian knows of all medications and supplements (including over-the-counter products) your pet takes.
  • Follow your veterinarian’s instructions before anesthesia, especially concerning withholding food, water, and medications.

Your vet will typically perform various diagnostic tests before your dog undergoes anesthesia. These tests include: 

  • Chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic function, as well as sugar levels
  • A complete blood count (CBC) to rule out blood-related conditions
  • Electrolyte tests to ensure your dog isn’t dehydrated or suffering from an electrolyte imbalance

In addition to blood tests, your vet might also recommend the following:

  • A catheter is part of the anesthetic preparation. The catheter can be used to provide anesthetics and intravenous fluids to keep your pet hydrated. Further, if needed, it would serve as a pathway to directly administer life-saving medications should a crisis arise.
  • Intravenous fluids to help maintain hydration and blood pressure. IV fluids also help your dog with recovery by aiding the liver and kidneys in clearing the body of anesthetic agents more quickly.

All of these steps are designed to make sure your pet undergoes a successful treatment without any complications arising from the anesthesia.

Why do I need to sign an anesthetic consent form?

It is critical that you completely comprehend what will happen to your dog and that you are aware of the hazards involved with an anesthetic.

The form will include consent for surgery or other specified diagnostic testing, as well as a cost estimate for the treatments. Many states require veterinarians to obtain written permission from the owner before performing anesthetic procedures.

Do vets monitor an anesthetized dog?

Yes, we do! Several practices are in place to make sure your dog doesn't suffer any complications from anesthesia. These include:

  • A technician or assistant is present during the anesthetic event to monitor your dog’s vital signs and 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 can affect the heart rate. By monitoring your dog’s heart rate, your veterinarian can make anesthetic adjustments quickly.
  • An electrocardiogram (ECG) measures your dog's heart rate and rhythm. It can detect arrhythmias, which are irregular heartbeats. If an arrhythmia is discovered, your veterinarian can adjust your anesthetic accordingly.
  • If your dog is undergoing a lengthy surgical treatment, his core body temperature may be monitored. Body temperature fluctuations might lead to serious problems.
  • A blood pressure monitor measures your dog’s blood pressure. It provides detailed information on your pet's cardiovascular state when used in conjunction with other monitoring equipment.
  • Pulse oximetry may be used to monitor the amount of oxygen in your dog's blood and pulse rate.
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) is frequently monitored alongside oxygen because it helps assess whether your pet is getting enough oxygen under anesthesia.

How long does anesthesia last in dogs?

Many dogs feel sleepy or tired for 12 to 24 hours after anesthesia. Your dog should be virtually normal by the time he is discharged. If your dog appears to act particularly weird after anesthesia or you are unable to rouse them quickly, contact the hospital right away for specific guidance.

Always make sure to follow any post-surgery advice your vet gives you for a speedy recovery.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog scheduled for surgery and you're worried about the anesthesia? Contact Green Valley Veterinary Clinic. We'll gladly try and allay any fears you have.

New Patients Welcome

Green Valley Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Yucaipa companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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