Anesthesia is commonly used on pets when they are to undergo surgery or when they have their teeth cleaned. This is done to ensure that these procedures are not only pain-free but also done safely. Today, our Kingman vets share some important information about anesthesia for dogs and what you can expect if it is needed for your pup.
When would my dog need anesthesia?
Some veterinary treatments, such as dentistry, spay and neutering procedures, and surgery, must be performed while your pet is sedated. Anesthesia is regulated unconsciousness, where your pet's degree of consciousness is controlled so that they do not feel pain or move.
As long as your dog is free of health concerns then the anesthesia should produce minimal risks. Typically the most risks involved are due to the procedure itself.
Are there any potential risks with anesthesia?
When providing anesthesia to a dog we are always aware that there is the possibility of an adverse 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 anesthesia.
Almost half of all anesthetic-related canine deaths occur within 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 many symptoms including edema at the injection site. Fasting before anesthesia, as recommended by your veterinarian, is critical to lowering your dog's risk.
What can I do to reduce the risks of anesthesia for dogs?
Here are some of the ways that the possible risks can be reduced when your dog receives anesthesia:
- 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 following 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:
- 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 recover 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.
Do I have to sign the anesthesia form?
Yes. Your vet will not place your dog under anesthesia if you are not aware of all of the risks and concerns when it comes to an anesthetic.
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.
Will the vets continuously monitor my dog while they are under anesthesia?
Yes! This is a must! Several measures 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 veterinarian's direction.
- 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 with other monitoring equipment.
- Pulse oximetry may 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 will it take for the anesthesia to wear off of my dog?
You can expect your dog to continue to be a little groggy for 12 to 24 hours after having 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.
As long as you follow all of your vet's instructions you should be well on your way to helping your dog recover quickly.
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.