Anesthesia and Patient Monitoring

Anesthesia and patient monitoring varies greatly among clinics. When you choose your veterinarian, be sure to question the types of anesthetics used and the protocols for monitoring. Often the more expensive anesthetics are safer to use; however, anesthetics are also chosen for other reasons including their ability to control pain.

Patient Monitoring

During general anesthesia, our patients are closely monitored by our doctors and highly trained veterinary nurses using multi-parameter patient monitoring machines similar to those used in human hospitals. Our anesthesia monitoring equipment constantly screens your pet’s heart rate and rhythm, respiratory rate and pattern, blood pressure, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, and temperature. By constantly monitoring your pet we are able to rapidly make adjustments as necessary. Anesthetic monitoring allows us to intervene early and help minimize any anesthetic risk to your pet. Monitoring your pet continues well into the post-anesthetic period until your pet has fully recovered.

Tranquization and Sedation

Tranquilization or sedation is used to calm an animal under various conditions. The animal remains awake or may ‘sleep’ but is easily aroused when stimulated. Sedatives are frequently requested for pets to help calm them during travel, thunderstorms, fireworks, etc. Sedation and tranquilization are used in the clinic for a variety of procedures such as x-rays or ear cleaning when there may be minor discomfort or if your pet is highly anxious or uncooperative. Sedation may also be used along with local anesthetics for minor surgical procedures on pets that are not able to tolerate a general anesthesia. Sedation and tranquilization are not without risk and each patient is fully assessed prior to dispensing these medications or using injectable agents in the clinic.

General Anesthesia

A general anesthetic induces a loss of consciousness in the animal and a loss of sensation throughout the body. Most general anesthetic procedures involve several steps beginning with the administration of a sedative. An intravenous injection of an anesthetic renders the animal unconscious while a breathing tube is placed into the animal’s trachea. A gas anesthetic is delivered in combination with oxygen to the animal via the breathing tube to maintain the state of unconsciousness.

Although general anesthetics are significantly safer than they have been in the past, there is still the remote chance of an unexpected anesthetic reaction. Our doctors are aware of the risks and treat anesthesia of your pet with the respect it deserves. There are many ways to reduce the risk associated with anesthesia including a thorough physical examination and blood work prior to anesthesia. Anesthetic monitoring equipment and tailoring an anesthetic protocol to fit your pet’s needs contributes to a safer anesthesia.

Local Anesthesia

A local anesthetic causes a loss of sensation to a ‘local’ area. Small surgical or diagnostic procedures may require a local anesthetic to perform. A biopsy is a common diagnostic procedure where local anesthetic can be used to control pain. A biopsy involves surgical removal of a small portion of tissue. Many small wounds and lacerations can be repaired using local anesthetics instead of general anesthesia.