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Fear of sedation and/or general anaesthesia (GA) are very common, and understandably so, there are so many scary stories circulating out there! Thankfully, most of them myths. That being said, there will always be risks associated with ANY medical procedure, but it’s important this fear does not prevent you from providing your pet with necessary medical care. Veterinarians should always go out of their way to carefully plan all veterinary procedures to minimize risks, so lets go over some things -you the pet owner- should ask your veterinarian before booking any surgical procedure with them.

For any pet being sedated or put under GA, the most important question to ask is… Will there be a vet nurse monitoring my pet the entire time they are sedated? If the answer is no, do not choose to have any procedure done there!! It is very important that any vet clinic performing surgeries has a surgical nurse on duty that is trained to monitor your sedated pet! Next, ask if they have the monitoring devices to monitor body temperature, blood pressure, oxygen and carbon dioxide values while your pet is anaesthetized (they should have all of them!!). You can also ask if your pet’s drug protocol will be customized to their needs (the answer should always be yes!!).

Key points

  • Veterinary anaesthesia is most often performed with the medications, monitoring equipment, and supports that are used in human hospitals.
  • Pain management should always be your vets priority. Pain medications are most often given before, during and after surgical procedures for optimal pet comfort and healing.
  • Veterinarians should have anaesthetic protocols especially designed for pets with heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease and diabetes.

Although, anaesthesia and any medical procedure have their risks, with the right protocol tailored to your pet’s needs, monitoring and careful pre-assessment; anaesthesia -with all the medical advancements to date- should be safer and more comfortable than ever before.

How You Can Help Reduce Risk? Prescreening Tests Are Critical

Preanaesthetic screening is important: a physical examination, bloodwork and sometimes a urinalysis, can identify underlying medical problems that need to be addressed and identified before any GA procedure. In a young pet, the blood work could be just checking for anemia, signs of blood clotting issues and screen overall organ health. In older pets, it often means a more comprehensive blood work panel, including a thyroid check, evaluation of kidney and liver function, and ensuring that electrolytes are within normal limits.

Top 5 Myths

Myth #1: Anaesthesia is dangerous

Myth #2: My pet will be groggy following anaesthesia

Myth #3: My pet shouldn’t be anaesthetized too often

Myth #4: Sick pets can’t be anaesthetized

Myth #5: My pet is too old for anaesthesia

Some Statistics

Here are the numbers: Approximately 1 in 1,000 healthy cats and 1 in 2,000 healthy dogs die under anaesthesia each year. Not to go too dark on you (but to give some perspective), death as a result of a motor vehicle accident is much more likely!

Conclusions

If you’ve been putting off your pet’s spay or dental care due to fear of GA you’re not alone… However, we want you to understand that when all the safety measures are in place, anaesthetic risk can be minimized to the extent that the benefits of surgical care more than outweigh the concerns!

If it’s the teeth we’re worried about (the primary reason older pets need GA), imagine no more bad breath, no more fussy eating and last but not least… An increased lifespan!! 

Please don’t waste another day worrying about GA. At ECVC, we don’t offer surgical procedures, but we will help you find the puurfect surgeon for your pet’s needs and go over any concerns you have. @DefinitelyECVC, we are ready to help and answer all of your questions, so don’t be shy, we want our pet owners to be well informed!

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