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Anesthesia in Dogs

Anesthesia in Dogs

While we hope to help our furry friends avoid the need for surgery, there's a chance that it may happen over the course of their life. With surgery comes the questions related to anesthesia. Today, our Mandeville vets share some information about dog anesthesia and what you can expect.

When will my dog need anesthesia?

If your dog is in need of a dental cleaning or surgical procedure they will need to be put under general anesthesia in order to keep them comfortable and also to keep themselves and our staff safe throughout the procedure. Anesthesia is regulated unconsciousness, which also keeps your pet from moving during surgery or dental work.

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.

Are there any risks or concerns with anesthesia?

While precautions are always taken there is always a chance that your pet may experience an unexpected reaction to the anesthetic. Dogs will be unable to swallow during their time under general anesthesia and those that have eaten shortly prior to their procedure are likely to vomit which can lead to an emergency situation.

Because of breed, size, health, or age, some dogs have a higher anesthetic risk. 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.

When we talk about the time frame where the danger is most present, this is in the first few hours after surgery. There are always hazards when administering any anesthetic medication to a patient, regardless of how long the patient remains sedated. Reactions can range from moderate to severe, with a wide range of symptoms including edema at the injection site. Fasting before anesthesia, as recommended by your veterinarian, is critical to lowering your dog's risk.

What steps can I take to reduce the risks associated with dog anesthesia?

Some of the ways that you can help minimize the risk of adverse reactions and unnecessary risks include:

  • 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.

Your vet will perform the following tests in order to determine whether your pet can safely undergo anesthesia:

  • 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

Some of the other diagnostics that your vet may run include:

  • 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.

These will all contribute to helping your dog undergo anesthesia and surgery safely.

Why is it important to sign the anesthesia consent form?

The consent form helps to let us know that you are aware of and completely understand the risks involved with putting your dog under general anesthesia.

The form will include consent to perform surgery or another specified diagnostic testing, as well as an estimate of the treatments' projected costs. Before undertaking anesthetic operations, the veterinarian is required by law in many places to seek written agreement from the owner. 

How will vets keep my dog safe while under anesthesia?

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 to 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 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 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 the blood pressure of your dog. 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?

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.

Why is my dog acting weird after anesthesia?

Anesthesia affects the nervous system of your dog so it is only natural that they feel a little different once the anesthesia is wearing off. 

You may notice your pup is a little groggy and less responsive than normal. They may take a moment when following the usual commands and might seem wobbly or avoid standing entirely.

These effects will wear off in the hours following their surgery and your pet will be back to their usual self before you know it.

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.

If you have more questions about anesthesia or the surgical procedure that your dog will be having, contact our Mandeville vets right away to schedule an examination.

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At Riverside Veterinary Hospital, we are always accepting new patients. Our veterinary team is passionate about the health and well-being of companion animals in Mandeville. Book your first appointment today.

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