Anesthesia and Patient Monitoring

Making sure our patients remain safe during surgery and other medical procedures is extremely important to us. Our team of veterinarians and veterinary technicians is skilled in using anesthesia and monitoring patients to ensure their safety and provide the most comfortable experience. Anesthesia and patient monitoring vary greatly from clinic to clinic. You can be confident that we use the most effective and up-to-date protocols. The type of anesthesia we use depends on the procedure. Some require general anesthesia, while others may only call for local anesthesia. We also closely monitor every procedure, regardless of whether it’s routine or more advanced. For more specific information on our protocols, please see the individual descriptions or contact us with any questions.

Pre-Anesthetic Testing

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As in human medicine, the anesthetics available for anesthetizing our companion pets are extremely safe. As a result, the anesthetic risk is greatly minimized when a “healthy” pet is placed under anesthesia. However, if your pet is not “healthy”, complications can occur both during and after the anesthetic procedure. Therefore, in order to minimize potential risk associated with anesthesia, it is vital for us to know the complete health status of your pet before placing him or her under anesthesia.

Prior to anesthesia, we will obtain a history and perform a physical exam on your pet. While a history and physical provide us with important information about your pet’s health, it is impossible to understand the complete physiological picture without performing other tests.

In most cases, if a pet appears “healthy” based on physical exam and history, an anesthetic procedure will be uneventful. However, unlike humans, pets cannot tell us when they do not feel well. And as a result of an animals’ instinct to protect themselves, oftentimes sick pets will “hide” their illness. Therefore, an animal’s appearance of health may be misleading. For example, a pet may lose up to 75% of kidney function prior to showing any signs of illness. To understand your pet’s overall health it is important to derive additional information through testing prior to anesthesia.

If the results of pre-anesthetic tests are within normal ranges, we can proceed with confidence knowing the anesthetic risk is minimized. On the other hand, if the results are not within the normal ranges, we may alter the anesthetic procedure. In some cases, we may proceed as planned, yet provide medical support during and after the procedure to ensure your pet’s health. In other cases, the test abnormalities may be significant enough to postpone the procedure in order to monitor and medically treat your pet.

Although performing these tests cannot guarantee the absence of complications, it can significantly minimize the risk to your pet and provide you and us with peace of mind.

These are some of the tests which may be recommended for your pet:

Blood Chemistry
Blood chemistry tests provide information concerning your pet’s vital organs such as the liver, kidneys, pancreas, thyroid, parathyroid and intestinal tract.

Complete Blood Cell Count (CBC)
The CBC provides information concerning the various types of blood cells. The red blood cell (RBC’s) carry oxygen to the tissues of the body. White blood cells (WBC’s) are the body’s primary defense against infection. Platelets play a major role in the blood clotting process and are essential for halting the bleeding process.

Electrolytes
In order to maintain life, the appropriate balance of electrolytes is vital. Certain diseases or conditions may result in electrolyte imbalances that could compromise a pet’s health and ultimately become life threatening.

Other tests
Depending on your pets’s age, history and physical exam, other tests may be recommended such as a EKG (electrocardiogram), thyroid profile or urinalysis.

Tranquilization/Sedation

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If travel, thunder, or fireworks upset your pet, he or she may benefit from tranquilization or sedation. While sedated, the animal will stay awake or sleep lightly but can be roused when stimulated. To minimize any potential risk associated with tranquilization or sedation, we need to assess each animal individually before we dispense these medications.

Please contact us if you would like to set up an assessment or discuss sedation with us.

Patient Monitoring

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We monitor our patients to keep them as safe as possible during procedures that require general anesthesia. A veterinary technician will continually assess your pet’s heart and respiratory rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs to help prevent any anesthetic risk.

Please feel free to ask us about our patient monitoring protocol or any concerns you might have about your pet’s procedure.

General Anesthesia

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For some procedures, your pet will need to be administered general anesthesia so that he or she will be unconscious and not feel pain. Many pet owners worry about their pets being administered general anesthesia. We can assure you that modern anesthesia is generally quite safe; to further lower any risk, we perform a physical examination and run blood work ahead of time to catch any underlying health issues. In addition, we follow a specific anesthetic protocol, including monitoring vital signs during the procedure, to ensure the safety of our patients.

We begin most general anesthetic procedures by administering a sedative to help the pet relax and decrease any anxiety and pain. We then administer an intravenous drug to provide complete anesthesia and place a breathing tube into the patient’s trachea (windpipe). To maintain the state of unconsciousness, we deliver a gas anesthetic in combination with oxygen through the breathing tube.

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about your pet receiving general anesthesia or about the procedure for which your pet is scheduled.

Local Anesthesia

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If your pet is having a minor surgical or diagnostic procedure performed, we sometimes use a local anesthetic to help control pain. For example, when we perform a biopsy (in which a small portion of tissue is surgically removed so it can be examined), we often use a local anesthetic. Local anesthetics cause a loss of sensation in the area where the procedure is being performed. We sometimes use a sedative and/or anxiolytic (anti-anxiety medication) in combination with the local anesthetic to keep pets calm during a procedure.

Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about your pet receiving local anesthesia or about the procedure for which your pet is scheduled.