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6 Things to Know Before Your Pet Has Anesthesia


Anesthesia in general is a very safe procedure for pets. This is particularly true when you have properly trained anesthesia staff and appropriate monitoring equipment handling your pet’s care. As a dedicated board certified anesthesiologist at CARES, I get lots of great questions from pet parents who are concerned about anesthesia for their pet. So, here are the top 6 things you need to know, before your furry love has anesthesia.

1. Find out if your pet will receive pain medication. This is important to know before surgery begins as well as understanding the post-op plan. Studies have shown that if you administer pain medication before surgery, then post surgical pain is significantly reduced.

2. Understand what type of monitoring equipment will be utilized during your pet’s procedure. One of the most important things to keep a patient safe under anesthesia is monitoring. To minimize complications, monitoring of vital signs, including the heart and lungs is critical. This is the best way to prevent problems before they occur and to correct any issue quickly during a procedure.

3. Ask if your pet will be monitored in recovery. Another critical time for monitoring is the first 3 hours of recovery, post surgery. As a pet parent, you want to be sure that someone is consistently monitoring the drugs that are still in the pet’s body. With that in mind, for same day procedures, pets should not be sent home for a minimum of 3 hours after a procedure requiring anesthesia.

4. Here’s what to expect the first 24 to 48 hours after having general anesthesia. Pets may be a little sleepy or quiet for a few days. On the other hand, some pets may be anxious, nervous or pant heavily. It’s not uncommon for some pets to get nauseous and vomit. In some cases, it can also take a few days before a pet has a bowel movement; up to 5 to 7 days sometimes.

5. Greyhounds have special considerations during anesthesia but there are plenty of misconceptions. The biggest concern for Greyhounds is the usage of a drug called Thiopental. The good news is that this drug has been off the market in the US for several years. However, other breed specific issues and genetic differences do play a part in determining the best and most appropriate anesthetic plan. This is why it’s important to understand who will be delivering the anesthesia to your pet. (See #6)

6. Ask your veterinarian who will be delivering the anesthesia. Understand if there will be someone solely dedicated to the monitoring of your pet. If your pet has high risk medical conditions or is having major surgery that carries a great risk of complications, then seeking out a board certified veterinary anesthesiologist and specialty care is warranted.

At CARES, I work with pet owners every day to make sure they understand the fine details involved with anesthesia and their pet. Many owners come in telling me they are worried about bad reactions to anesthesia, after doing some reading online. The fact is, true drug reactions to anesthesia are incredibly rare. And, with the proper treatment plan, care and monitoring, you can rest assured a safe anesthetic experience for your pet.

If you have any questions about anesthesia for your pet, feel free to contact us at CARES at 215-750-2774.

By: Andrea Caniglia, VMD, DACVA
Board Certified Veterinary Anesthesiologist, CARES