There are a number of procedures from surgeries to dental work, which are completed while your dog is unconscious. Our Gallup vets share some important information about anesthesia for dogs and how we can help reduce the risk of complications.
Dog Anesthesia: When is it needed?
Some veterinary procedures, such as dentistry, spay and neuter procedures, and surgery, require your pet to be sedated. Anesthesia is a state of controlled unconsciousness in which your pet's level of consciousness is maintained so that they do not feel pain or move.
Most healthy pets, including senior pets, have no problems with anesthesia, and the dangers are generally tied to the treatment being performed rather than the anesthetic itself.
Are there any risks with anesthesia for dogs?
No matter what the medication is, there is always a risk of reactions or complications. One of the main concerns is that your dog may lose their ability to swallow once under anesthetic. If there is food in the stomach, the dog may vomit while under anesthesia or shortly afterward which can cause serious concerns.
Certain dogs may have a higher risk of experiencing complications based on their age, size, breed and underlying conditions. 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 canine deaths that are caused by anesthetics occur within the first few hours after surgery. When administering any anesthetic medication to a patient, there are always risks, regardless of how long the patient is sedated. Edema at the injection site is one of the most common symptoms, which can range from mild to severe. Fasting before anesthesia, as advised by your veterinarian, is essential for reducing your dog's risk.
How Can I Reduce the Risk of Anesthesia-Related Complications in My Dog?
Here are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of anesthesia-related complications:
- 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.
Your vet may ask that certain diagnostic tests be performed prior to anesthetic to ensure the safety of your dog including:
- 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
Along with bloodwork, your vet may also recommend:
- Anesthetic preparation includes the use of a catheter. Anesthetics and intravenous fluids can be administered through the catheter to keep your pet hydrated. Furthermore, in the event of a crisis, it could be used to directly administer life-saving medications.
- Intravenous fluids to 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.
These steps are important to the success of the procedure and help to mitigate the risk of any potential complications.
Why Do I Need to Sign an Anesthetic Consent Form?
If your dog is having an anesthetic it is crucial that you know exactly what to expect and what the risks are. The anesthetic consent form helps to accomplish this.
The form will include permission to perform surgery or another diagnostic test, as well as a cost estimate for the treatments. Many states require veterinarians to obtain written permission from the owner before performing anesthetic procedures.
Do Vets Monitor an Anesthetized Dog?
Yes, we will keep an eye on your dog throughout their procedure to ensure their safety. Some of the safety measures we take may include:
- 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.
- The heartbeats per minute of your pet are counted with a heart rate monitor. Heart rate can be affected by anesthesia and other factors. Your veterinarian can quickly adjust anesthetics by monitoring your dog's heart rate.
- Your dog's heart rate and rhythm are measured with an electrocardiogram (ECG). It is capable of detecting arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats. Your veterinarian can adjust your anesthetic if an arrhythmia is discovered.
- 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 in conjunction with other monitoring equipment.
- Pulse oximetry may be used to 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 Does Anesthesia Last In Dogs?
When a dog has had anesthesia, they may seem sleepy or sluggish for the first day or so afterward. Your dog should be virtually normal by the time he is discharged. If your dog is having a hard time waking up or if your dog is acting weird after anesthesia, contact the hospital right away for specific guidance.
By following your vet's instructions you can help ensure that your dog recovers quickly with a reduced risk of complications.
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.