What Your Veterinarian Can Do: Your veterinarian is ultimately responsible for the safety of your pet under anesthesia and will be able to ensure the safety in many ways.
Physical Exam and history
Your veterinarian will read through your pet’s medical chart to help determine the health status and any existing potential anesthetic problems or allergies. A complete physical exam will be done on all pets prior to anesthesia to again look for potential disease problems which may alter the anesthetic protocol needed. As an example, short nosed breeds of dogs (pugs) & cats (Persians) will have a delayed extubation which means that the breathing tube will be kept in the pet as long as possible when the anesthetic gas is shut off and the pet is maintained on oxygen. Brachycephalic or short nosed breeds are likely to have more problems breathing when awakening from anesthesia and delayed extubation resolves those problems by providing an open airway until the pet is more awake and better able to breathe normally.
Veterinarians have various means of providing general anesthesia for your pet and this allows us to determine the safest choices for him/her.
The choices can include:
- Using gas anesthesia to induce (cause the pet to sleep) the pet vs. using injectable anesthesia to induce the pet.
- Injectable induction is the most common method and is the fastest and easiest on your pet.
- Pets with liver or kidney disease may be induced with gas alone via a mask or an induction box. Pets maintained on gas alone will awaken quickly, but also take a little longer to induce and their blood pressure must be monitored very carefully.
Types of injectable anesthetics used
Again, there are many choices here as well. At our hospital we typically will induce with telazole or a combination of ketamine and valuim. These both have proven very safe for us and have minimal suppressive effects on cardiovascular or respiratory function.
- For very short anesthetic procedures in which we would like the pet to be able to go home quickly, or for geriatric pets with organ disease, we will often use a drug called Propofol. This anesthetic is very safe and extremely short acting. Pets will typically awaken fully in 5-10 minutes and they awaken easily as if they had just been snoozing.
- Other injectable anesthetics include those that provide a combination of pain relief and anesthesia and allow for reversal of the anesthesia with a second injection. These can have some suppression of blood pressure and are only reserved for young healthy pets undergoing very short procedures.
Types of anesthetic gasses used
Once again, veterinarians have the ability to choose the type of anesthetic gas used on your pet. Some of the older anesthetic gasses are much less expensive but also can cause problems in older pets, can result in liver disease and cause slower changes when the pet’s level of anesthesia needs to be adjusted. An example of an older type of anesthetic gas is halothane. The newer and of course more expensive anesthetic gasses include isoflurane and sevoflurane. These gasses are extremely safe and are commonly used in geriatric pets. They also provide the ability to quickly change the depth of anesthesia. I recommend using only one of these gasses.
Monitoring (really the MOST important aspect)
Monitoring of your pet’s vitals (depth of anesthesia, respiration, temperature, heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, blood pressure) should be done by one designated individual throughout the procedure and the results should be recorded throughout the procedure. Monitoring allows the person performing the procedure to focus on completing the procedure to the best of their abilities without dividing their attention between the task at and and anesthetic monitoring. Good monitoring also allows for the correct level of anesthesia to be chosen throughout the procedure. Most hospitals will provide some way of monitoring your pet, but the way the pet is monitored and the values monitored may vary depending upon the equipment and the staff available.
Recovery from anesthesia
The recovery or awakening period is just as important as the actual anesthetic procedure. The pet should be closely monitored during this time, the temperature should be taken and warmth should be provided if needed, the pet should have delayed extubation if needed and the pet should be supervised until fully awake.
for more information on pain control read below…