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Anesthesia For Dogs

When spaying or neutering dogs, veterinarians typically administer anesthesia, and most dogs will require it again at least once in their lifetime. Just like humans, our four-legged companions may need anesthesia for surgeries or procedures. Today, Tracy veterinarians will discuss essential information about dog anesthesia.

In What Situations Is Anesthesia Used?

Certain veterinary procedures, like dentistry, spaying, neutering, and surgery, necessitate sedation for your pet. Anesthesia ensures your pet remains in a controlled state of unconsciousness, preventing pain or movement.

The risk of anesthesia is generally minimal for most healthy pets, including seniors. The primary concerns relate to the specific procedure rather than the anesthesia 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 food is in the stomach, the dog may vomit while under anesthesia or shortly afterward.

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

Almost half of all canine deaths are caused by anesthetics within the first few hours after surgery. When administering any anesthetic medication to a patient, there are always risks, regardless of how long the patient is sedated. Edema at the injection site is one of the most common symptoms, which can range from mild to severe.

As your veterinarian advises, fasting before anesthesia is essential for reducing your dog's risk.

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 with regard to withholding food, water, and medications.

The diagnostic tests before undergoing anesthesia normally 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:

  • Anesthetic preparation includes the use of a catheter. Anesthetics and intravenous fluids can be administered through the catheter to keep your pet hydrated. Furthermore, it could be used in a crisis to administer life-saving medications directly.
  • 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.

These steps are designed to ensure your pet undergoes a successful treatment without any complications arising from the anesthesia.

Why Do I Need to Sign an Anesthetic Consent Form?

Ensure you fully understand what will occur to your dog and the associated risks of anesthesia.

The form will request permission for surgery or other diagnostic tests and provide a treatment cost estimate. In numerous states, veterinarians must obtain the owner's written consent before administering anesthesia. 

Do Vets Monitor an Anesthetized Dog?

Yes, we do! Several practices are in place to ensure 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 veterinarian's direction.
  • The heartbeats per minute of your pet are counted with a heart rate monitor. Heart rate can be affected by anesthesia and other factors. Your veterinarian can quickly adjust anesthetics by monitoring your dog's heart rate.
  • Your dog's heart rate and rhythm are measured with an electrocardiogram (ECG). It is capable of detecting arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats. Your veterinarian can adjust your anesthetic if an arrhythmia is discovered.
  • If your dog is enduring 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 if your pet is getting enough oxygen under anesthesia.

How Long Does Anesthesia Last In Dogs?

Most dogs experience sleepiness or fatigue for 12 to 24 hours following anesthesia. Your dog should return to their normal state upon discharge. If your dog exhibits unusual behavior like acting weird or is slow to wake up after anesthesia, contact the hospital immediately for precise instructions.

Remember to diligently adhere to any post-surgery recommendations provided by your veterinarian to ensure a swift recovery.

Is your dog scheduled for surgery, and you're worried about the anesthesia? Contact Paws and Claws Veterinary Hospital. We'll gladly try and allay any fears you have.

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