Anesthetic for Your Pet
Of all the procedures that are performed in this hospital, none are as delicate as anesthesia.
Our veterinary staff have taken many advanced courses on the safest and most effective anesthesia protocols. We pride ourselves on the level of care that we provide for your pets during this critical time. While no anesthetic or procedure can ever be 100% safe for humans or for pets, we strive for and achieve the safest results that we possibly can.
Anesthetic requires the right medications at the correct doses (mistakes are forbidden), with the proper equipment, currently maintained.
Dosing the medications is not as easy as it sounds. This would be typical for a cat surgery, give it a try with a 4.38 kg cat:
- D 3 ug/kg @ 100 ug/ml = ___ ml
- K 2 mg/kg @ 100 mg/ml = ____ml
- T . 2 mg/kg @ 10 mg/ml = ___ml
- M 0. 1 mg/ml @ 5 mg/ml = ___ ml
- B 0. 02 mg/kg @ 0. 3 mg/ml = ___ml
- M 0. 05mg/kg @ 5 mg/ml = ___ml
What did you come up with?
Whereas many animal hospitals base their anesthetic solely on the weight of the pet, at the Clarkson Village Animal Hospital, we consider the following as a minimum:
- Past anesthetic experiences, and make adjustments if needed
- Concurrent medical conditions – diabetes, kidney, liver, heart disease, etc.
- review recent laboratory numbers
- Breed – some breeds have specific sensitivities
- Age – younger and older pets require special attention
- Temperament – a more solid sedation for a more active pet allows for lower anesthetic levels, and is thus safer
- Any medication currently taken – all drugs must be compatible
- Procedure being performed – if at all possible, we use local anesthetics (freezing) to lower the amount of anesthetic required, as this is safer. This includes spay, neuter, dental extractions, lump removals, traumas, etc.
- Lean body weight – for proper dosing, we do not dose to anesthetize fat, for obese cats and dogs
With the benefit of pre‐anesthetic blood screening, we can individualize an anesthetic protocol specifically for each patient, with the many options that are available to us.
What Happens to My Pet during a General Anesthetic?
A general anesthetic is the state of unconsciousness produced by drugs that allows a pet to have surgery or another procedure without being aware of it. What is not commonly realized is that analgesics (pain control medications) are required, otherwise potentially dangerous levels of anesthetic are required to keep a pained patient in an unconscious state.
It is common to be a little anxious about your pet undergoing a general anesthetic, especially since they cannot tell us about their experiences.
The following outlines a typical protocol for a pet receiving an anesthetic at our hospital:
Pets who are scheduled for a general anesthetic will be admitted to the veterinary hospital the morning of the procedure. It is important that your pet has not been fed for at least 8 hours, since anesthetic medications can cause nausea and vomiting (which can be dangerous in a sedated patient). You may give water until morning. For old pets, or pets with complicated medical conditions, please ask about any special instructions regarding food and water before anesthetic.
In most cases, you will have already discussed the preventive or surgical procedure in detail with your veterinarian prior to the day of anesthesia. Your pet will be admitted to hospital in the morning between the hours of 8:00am and 8:30am. This important appointment gives you the opportunity to meet the Ontario Registered Veterinary Technician who will be caring for your pet and monitoring him or her while under anesthesia. It also allows you to ask any last minute questions about the procedure.
Once admitted, your dog or cat will receive a physical examination by the surgeon to ensure that there are no recent health changes that may interfere with the anesthesia. If not done already, a blood sample can be taken to perform any required pre-anesthetic blood tests. The blood test results are ready in about 30 minutes, at which time a sedative and pain control injection is given. Having a sedative prior to an anesthetic reduces the amount of anesthetic drugs necessary and increases the safety of the procedure.
Following sedation, a small area will be shaved on your pet’s leg for the placement of an intravenous (IV) catheter. This catheter allows IV fluids to be administered to help support blood pressure, which generally falls during a general anesthesia. Low blood pressure can decrease the blood supply to the kidneys, brain, and other vital organs, potentially causing permanent damage. The IV catheter also allows immediate access for any medications that may need to be administered during the procedure.
A short-acting anesthetic drug called an ‘induction agent’ will be given through the catheter. This produces a quick, painless general anesthetic, at which time an endotracheal tube is placed. An endotracheal tube is a small tube that enters your pet’s trachea (windpipe) and allows oxygen and anesthetic gas to be inhaled. General anesthesia is maintained by a special machine which delivers the designated combination of gas and oxygen to your pet when he or she breathes. This is the same type of inhalant gas used in human hospitals and, once the procedure is completed, your pet quickly recovers by breathing out the anesthetic gas.
Your pet’s blood pressure, blood oxygen level, heart rate, breathing rate, body temperature, and depth of anesthesia are continuously monitored by our veterinary nurses during the procedure.
Additional pain prevention medications are given before your pet is awake to ensure a smooth and comfortable recovery. Your pet then has the breathing tube removed, is snuggled in warm blankets, and is closely monitored for the rest of the day under the watchful eye of our nursing team.