Anesthesia is needed anytime your dog needs to undergo a procedure where they may have some discomfort because, by definition, anesthesia means "without pain." We can also take away the awareness of the procedure with general anesthesia.
There are different types of anesthesia. General anesthesia, as I just mentioned, is when the animal is completely unconscious. There's also local anesthesia, which by true definition, completely eliminates any kind of pain by blocking the pain receptors. There's also sedation where they're not completely unconscious, but they also do get some pain control. They're immobilized somewhat so that we can do the procedures on them.
This question comes up quite a bit. There are certain breeds that are what we call brachycephalic animals. These are bulldogs, boxers, Shih Tzus, Pekingese, French bulldogs, and all those animals that have smashed faces. They have some airway issues that we have to be particularly cautious and careful with.
One thing that's important to understand is that anesthesia is really safe. I like to commonly tell people that driving in the car to get to the veterinary hospital carries greater risk than anesthesia. Although, the risk is not zero. There are some things that we do to prepare for anesthesia.
For the procedure, one of the things we do is we want to make sure that there's no food in the stomach during the procedure. We recommend an overnight fast for planned general anesthesia. With anesthesia, we also want to make sure that their liver and kidney function is good and they do not have any breathing difficulties or heart disease that's not managed.
With any medication, there's always a potential for an adverse drug reaction, but, fortunately, that's very uncommon. We do have full monitoring. We utilize EKGs and pulse ox symmetry to monitor oxygenation. We check their blood pressure, maintain IV catheterization so that we have immediate venous access, and give emergency drugs in case there are any complications, how rare they may be.
What monitoring will be done by the veterinarian to ensure my dog is safe while undergoing anesthesia?
Monitoring is continuous when we do anesthesia. We are constantly monitoring their heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and anesthetic depth. We are trained to monitor the depth of anesthesia based on certain parameters, such as eye position, jaw tone, and reaction to certain stimuli. So all of these things are utilized to monitor the safety of anesthesia.
There can be some residual sedation with anesthesia, so we try to ensure that dogs are not allowed on slippery surfaces or stairs until they're completely awake. Most of the time, when the animal goes home, they're adequately awake to go ahead and live their normal life. Sometimes their appetite is slightly decreased within the first 24 hours after a procedure, which typically passes within a day.
If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (480) 614-9500, you can email us, or you can reach out on social media. But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can.