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Anesthesia for Dogs

Anesthesia is used for dogs undergoing surgery and sometimes for anxious dogs in need of dental care or some grooming procedures. In this post, our Medford vets discuss everything pet owners should know if their dog requires anesthesia for a medical procedure.

Medical Procedures for Dogs Using Anesthesia

Certain veterinary procedures, including dentistrysurgery, and grooming appointments for anxious or aggressive dogs, warrant sedation for your pet. Anesthesia for dogs is regulated unconsciousness, where they can receive even the most invasive medical care without feeling any pain. 

Most healthy pets, including senior pets, have no problems with anesthesia, and the only dangers are tied to the treatment being performed as opposed to the anesthetic itself. Dog anesthesia sedation is much like the sedation humans undergo for medical procedures, so the process is relatively similar.

Any dog in need of anesthesia is first weighed and given a thorough pre-anesthetic examination. This includes an extensive examination of the chest, palpation of the abdomen, and an assessment of the gums to check for signs of good hydration and circulation. These exams ensure your dog is in good enough health to undergo anesthesia.

Are there risks when dogs undergo anesthesia?

Certain dogs may be at a higher risk when receiving anesthesia due to their breed, size, health, or age. Risks can range from minor problems, such as vomiting after receiving anesthesia, to life-threatening problems such as cardiac arrest or a stroke.

A potential danger associated with anesthesia can occur if your dog has not properly fasted prior to receiving anesthesia. While your dog is under anesthesia, they lose their normal reflex ability to swallow. If there is food in the stomach, your dog could vomit while under anesthesia. If this does occur in the absence of your dog's swallowing reflex, vomited material can end up in the lungs and cause your pet to choke.

Rare complications of anesthesia include organ failure (typically in the kidneys, liver, or heart), visual impairment, and seizures. Your vet will take every precaution to minimize these risks while your dog is under anesthesia. Keep in mind, that your vet will only be given anesthesia if the benefits outweigh the risks.

Reducing Your Dog's Risk of Complications

To help reduce complications when while your dog is under anesthesia, do your best to adhere to the following steps:

  • Carefully follow your veterinarian’s instructions before anesthesia, especially when it comes to withholding food, water, and medications.
  • Let your veterinarian know if your pet has previously had a negative reaction to sedation or anesthesia.
  • Make sure your veterinarian knows of all medications and supplements (including over-the-counter products) your pet takes.

The following diagnostic tests before undergoing anesthesia normally include:

  • Chemistry testing to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic function, as well as sugar levels
  • 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 may also recommend:

  • 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 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.

Will I need to sign a consent form?

It is imperative that you understand any associated risks of anesthesia for your dog. That being said, you will have to sign an anesthesia consent form acknowledging that you have been informed and are willing to give the vet permission to administer any sort of sedative.

The animal hospital will break down the consent form in detail so you are clear as to what the risks are and what it is that you are signing. If you are unsure, you can ask your vet if there are any other treatment options available, although they may not be as effective as surgery depending on your dog's condition.

Your Dog Will Be Monitored at All Times

There are several practices in place to ensure your dog doesn't suffer any complications from anesthesia, but if they do, the veterinary team is trained to handle these situations. At Siskiyou Veterinary Hospital, our diagnostic technology allows us to closely monitor several aspects of your pet's help while they are sedated.

The following are some of the ways your dog's veterinary team will help make sure the procedure goes as smoothly as possible:

  • 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.
  • 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 their pulse rate. 
  • 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.
  • 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?

After receiving anesthesia, dogs will typically feel groggy for around 12 to 24 hours. By the time your dog is ready to go home, they should be back to their normal self. If your dog's behavior seems a bit odd, or if your dog is acting weird after anesthesia sedation, contact your veterinarian right away for specific guidance.

Following the procedure, be sure to carefully follow any post-surgery instructions provided by your vet. This will give your dog the best chance at a quick and successful 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.

Does your dog have an upcoming procedure that requires them to be under anesthesia? Contact our Medford vets who would be more than happy to provide you with more information regarding sedation for your pup.

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