Many veterinary procedures, such as dental cleanings and spay and neuter procedures, require anesthesia to ensure your pet remains still and doesn’t experience pain. While most pets don’t have problems undergoing anesthesia, many pet owners have concerns about their pet being anesthetized. Our team at 360 Pet Medical wants to help by offering information about what is involved in an anesthetic procedure, and steps you can take to decrease your pet’s risk.

Before pet anesthesia

When you bring your pet in for a procedure that requires anesthesia, the preanesthetic routine typically involves:

  • Reviewing your pet’s medical history — We review your pet’s medical history to ensure they have no pre-existing conditions that could cause complications during the procedure.
  • Weighing your pet — An accurate weight is determined to ensure the anesthetic dose is appropriately calculated for your pet.
  • Examining your pet — We thoroughly examine your pet, listening to their heart and lungs, assessing their mucous membranes, and taking their temperature to ensure they are exhibiting no signs that could pose a problem.
  • Performing diagnostics — Blood work, including a complete blood count and a biochemistry profile, are performed to check for any developing medical conditions. Other diagnostics, such as a urinalysis, blood pressure measurement, X-rays, and electrocardiogram, also may be recommended depending on your pet’s condition.
  • Sedating your pet — A preanesthetic sedative usually is given to reduce your pet’s stress and make the process easier.
  • Placing an intravenous catheter — An intravenous catheter typically is placed to allow fluid and medication administration.

During pet anesthesia

While your pet is under anesthesia, they are observed using various monitoring methods, including:

  • A dedicated surgical team — A trained veterinary professional closely observes your pet from induction until they fully recover. They are responsible for monitoring your pet’s vital signs and adjusting your pet’s anesthetic level accordingly, and they will alert the veterinarian if any issues arise.
  • Heart rate monitor — Anesthetic depth and surgical stimulation can affect heart rate, so your pet’s heartbeats per minute are monitored in case adjustments need to be made. 
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) — Your pet’s ECG is monitored to detect arrhythmias that could indicate a problem.
  • Blood pressure monitor — Your pet’s blood pressure is monitored to assess their cardiovascular status.
  • Core body temperature — Body temperatures above or below normal can cause dangerous complications, so your pet’s temperature is monitored to ensure they have a speedy recovery.
  • Respirometer — Your pet’s breaths per minute are monitored.
  • Pulse oximeter — The amount of oxygen in your pet’s blood is monitored.
  • End tidal CO2 monitor — Often used in conjunction with a pulse oximeter, this device measures the amount of expired carbon dioxide to ensure your pet is receiving adequate oxygen.

After pet anesthesia

After an anesthetic procedure, your pet is placed in a quiet area to recover. Blankets and pads typically are used to keep them warm, and medications to reverse the anesthetic effects may be administered to help speed the recovery process. Your pet is watched closely by the surgical team during this time to ensure they are recovering normally.

Risk factors for pet anesthesia

While any pet can experience complications during an anesthetic procedure, some pets are at higher risk. Risk factors include:

  • Breed — Brachycephalic breeds, such as pugs, Boston terriers, bulldogs, and Persian cats, have higher rates of airway-related complications.
  • Size — Small pets, such as puppies, kittens, and toy breed dogs, are at increased risk because they are more prone to hypothermia. Obese pets are also at higher risk, and if the procedure is not an emergency, your pet may be placed on a weight loss program to lose a few pounds before the surgery.
  • Age — Senior pets are at higher risk because they are more likely to have an underlying health issue.
  • Emergency situations — Pets undergoing an emergency surgery are at increased risk.
  • Sick pets — Pets affected by a health condition are at increased risk.

Reducing your pet’s risk for anesthesia

Not all anesthetic complications can be prevented, but you can take steps to decrease your pet’s risk. These include:

  • Providing preventive care — Provide all preventive care recommended by your veterinarian, and ensure your pet is evaluated by a veterinarian at least once a year to check for underlying health conditions. 
  • Managing your pet’s weight — Keep your pet at a healthy weight by calculating their daily energy requirements, feeding them appropriately, and providing adequate daily exercise.
  • Providing your pet’s history — Ensure your veterinary professional knows about any reaction your pet has had to anesthesia, and ensure they are aware of all medications and supplements your pet is receiving.
  • Following instructions — Follow all preanesthesia instructions, such as withholding food before an anesthetic procedure and administering any prescribed medications.
  • Avoiding injuries — Whenever possible, take steps to reduce your pet’s risk of injury to avoid emergency situations. 

The majority of pets who undergo anesthesia have no complications, but we understand you may be anxious if your pet has to be anesthetized. Follow steps to reduce your pet’s risk, and know that our veterinary professionals will monitor your pet closely throughout the anesthetic process to ensure they recover well. If you need to schedule a dental cleaning or a spay or neuter procedure, contact our team at 360 Pet Medical so we can ensure they remain safe during their anesthetic procedure.