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Anesthesia for Dogs

Most dogs are given anesthesia when they are spayed or neutered, and the majority of them will require it at least once throughout their lives. Our four-legged pets, like us, may require anesthesia as part of a surgery or procedure. Today, our Cumming vets discuss what you should know about anesthesia for dogs.

In What Situations Is Anesthesia Used?

As a pet owner, you want what's best for your furry friend, which sometimes means undergoing veterinary treatments requiring sedation. Don't worry, though, and anesthesia is a safe and effective way to ensure your pet stays pain-free and still during procedures like dentistry, spaying or neutering, and surgery.

During anesthesia, your pet is placed into a regulated unconsciousness, allowing the veterinarian to perform the treatment without pain or movement. While some pet owners might be apprehensive about the safety of anesthesia, most healthy pets have no issues with the procedure. In fact, any potential dangers associated with anesthesia are typically tied to the treatment being performed rather than the anesthetic itself.

So, rest easy knowing that your pet is in good hands during procedures requiring anesthesia. Your veterinarian will take all the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and successful treatment, leaving your furry friend feeling better in no time.

What Are the Risk Factors of Anesthesia?

Regarding veterinary procedures requiring sedation, some pet owners may worry about the potential risks involved. While anesthesia is generally considered safe, it's important to be aware of possible complications that can arise during or after the treatment.

One common concern is that sedated patients lose their ability to swallow, which can cause vomiting if food is in the stomach. This is why your veterinarian recommends fasting your dog before anesthesia to minimize this risk.

It's also worth noting that some dogs may be more vulnerable to the effects of anesthesia than others. Factors like breed, size, age, and overall health can all play a role in determining a dog's anesthetic risk. Puppies and senior dogs may be more susceptible to changes or immaturity in specific organs or systems.

Of course, the potential hazards of anesthesia aren't limited to the actual administration of the drug. In fact, almost half of all anesthetic-related canine deaths occur within the first few hours after surgery. While this can be alarming, it's important to remember that many of these deaths are associated with the procedure performed rather than the anesthesia itself.

So, what can you do to help keep your furry friend safe during anesthesia? As your vet recommended, fasting is a good first step, but it's also important to stay vigilant and monitor your dog closely after the procedure. And, as always, don't hesitate to ask your veterinarian any questions or express any concerns you may have - they're there to help ensure the best possible outcome for you and your beloved pet.

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 regarding withholding food, water, and medications.

The following diagnostic tests before undergoing anesthesia normally include:

  • 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

In addition to blood tests, your vet might also recommend the following:

  • 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 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.

All of these steps are designed to make sure your pet undergoes a successful treatment without any complications arising from the anesthesia.

Why Do I Need to Sign an Anesthetic Consent Form?


When it comes to your dog's health, you want to ensure you have all the information you need to make informed decisions. That's why it's crucial to understand what's involved in any procedures requiring anesthesia and be aware of any potential risks.

Before your dog undergoes surgery or another diagnostic testing, your veterinarian will provide you with a consent form outlining the details of the treatment and its estimated cost. In many places, it's also a legal requirement for the vet to obtain written consent from the owner before administering anesthesia.

This consent process ensures that you're fully informed about what's going to happen and allows you to ask any questions or voice any concerns you may have. By clearly understanding the procedure and its potential risks, you can feel more confident in your decision to proceed and can help your dog get the care they need.

So, next time your furry friend requires anesthesia, take the time to review the consent form carefully, and don't be afraid to speak up if you have any questions or concerns. Your veterinarian is there to help you navigate the process and provide the best possible care for your beloved pet.

Do Vets Monitor an Anesthetized Dog?

Yes, we do! Several practices are in place to make sure your dog doesn't suffer any complications from anesthesia. These 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A blood pressure monitor measures the blood pressure of your dog. It provides detailed information on your pet's cardiovascular state when used with other monitoring equipment.
  • Pulse oximetry may be used to monitor the amount of oxygen in your dog's blood and her 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?

Many dogs feel sleepy or tired for 12 to 24 hours after anesthesia. Your dog should be virtually normal by the time he is discharged. If your dog appears to act particularly weird after anesthesia, or you are unable to rouse them quickly, contact the hospital right away for specific guidance.

Always make sure to follow any post-surgery advice your vet gives you for a speedy recovery.

Why is My dog acting weird after anesthesia?

As a pet owner, the thought of your furry friend undergoing anesthesia can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. On the one hand, it's amazing that we have the technology to perform procedures without causing pain or discomfort. But on the other hand, we've all heard those scary stories of unexpected reactions and strange behaviors after the process is done.

If you've ever had a pet undergo anesthesia, you might have noticed some strange behaviors in the hours following the procedure. Things like whining, excessive sleep, and even accidents around the house are all common side effects of the drugs used to prevent pain during the process. While seeing your dog acting strangely can be unnerving, it's important to remember that these behaviors are usually temporary and should subside within 12–18 hours.

Of course, keeping a close eye on your pet after anesthesia is always a good idea to make sure they're recovering properly. If you have any concerns or notice any unusual symptoms, don't hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian for guidance.

So, while anesthesia can be a bit frightening, it's also an incredible tool that allows us to keep our pets healthy and pain-free. And with a little patience and some extra TLC, your furry friend will be back to their normal, happy self in no time.

Is your dog scheduled for surgery, and you're worried about the anesthesia? Contact Crestview Animal Hospital. We'll gladly try and allay any fears you have.

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Crestview Animal Hospital is always welcoming new patients! Our Cumming vets provide veterinary services designed to promote good health and longevity. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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