What to Know About Dog Anesthesia Before Surgery
If you've had a dog for any length of time, you've possibly wondered about reasons your dog might need to undergo anesthesia. Dogs need to undergo anesthesia if they're going to experience a procedure that might be uncomfortable or painful and, as veterinarians, we always want to control any possibility of pain.
The vast majority of procedures require anesthesia because your veterinarian needs dogs to be immobilized, such as when doing a spay or neuter procedure. When correcting an issue such as a laceration, your veterinarian will likely need an anesthetic agent to relax your pet and may even perform a local block to control pain. Doing this allows your pet to be comfortable and relaxed, so your veterinarian is able to perform the procedure quickly, efficiently, and most importantly - safely. Contact a local veterinarian to learn more about the process of giving your dog anesthesia before surgery.
Pre-Anesthetic Evaluations for Dogs
Dog anesthesia always has some level of risk, but your veterinarian has ways to minimize this. As such, it's important to perform anesthesia when surgical interventions are necessary, with bone procedures, and even with dental procedures. Your veterinarian will generally have a qualified technician (or team of technicians) assisting him or her to make the procedure as safe as possible, monitoring your dog carefully throughout the procedure.
In addition, your veterinarian will perform a pre-anesthetic exam to try and catch any issues that may cause complications, such as heart disease. Blood work and sometimes even radiographs or X-rays are taken to assess the metabolic and health status of your dog. Having this information allows your veterinarian to choose the types of anesthesia that will be safest for your pet. Your veterinarian will make decisions based on the health status of your dog, how long the procedure is going to take, and what kind of steps will need to be undertaken.
At-Home Preparation for Dog Anesthesia
There are several steps that you need to take to prepare your dog for anesthesia. First of all, your veterinarian will generally need your pet to be fasted the night before the procedure, often with no food after midnight. An exception to this is with diabetic patients who may need to eat and receive insulin in the morning. They are allowed to drink water up until the time they arrive at your veterinarian's practice. Check with your veterinarian to determine if they need to take their medication in the morning and for specific dog surgery instructions.
Administering Dog Anesthesia
When your dog receives anesthesia, the most common way it is administered is by giving an injection into the muscle. This takes a little while to take effect. If the procedure is going to be long or involved, your pet will likely have an endotracheal tube placed into their trachea or windpipe so that anesthetic gases and oxygen can be administered. With some procedures that are going to be quick, anesthetics given intramuscularly might suffice. Many times, however, the veterinarian needs to have the control of a gas anesthetic, such as when your pet is having abdominal surgery. These gas anesthetics allow your dog's plane of anesthesia to be well-controlled, keeping your dog from feeling anything during the procedure and helping to wake them up at the end of the surgical procedure.
Pain Medications with Dog Anesthesia
After most procedures, your dog will be given post-operative pain medication. While doing so produces some sedation and relaxation, it also provides pain control. These dogs recover from anesthesia more slowly than if they had not been given any post-op medication, but it helps with the recovery process. It means that there is more time for healing before they start trying to do anything strenuous. After some procedures, your veterinarian may even send an active pet home with additional sedation to help them stay quiet for a few more days. They will also usually go home with additional pain medication so that, as the anesthetics wear off, your dog does not feel any discomfort.
Pain medications are really important to use before your pet feels any pain. It is much harder to get the pain under control if your veterinarian waits until they are already experiencing pain. They may receive this medication before the procedure starts, towards the end of the procedure, or upon recovery - depending on the situation. Your dog may be sedated a little when they go home but, depending on the time of anesthetic used, most dogs are feeling more like their normal selves by that evening, if not the next morning.
As with any medical procedure, the benefits and risks of veterinary anesthesia should be discussed with a trusted professional. Reach out to a veterinarian near you if you have questions or concerns about dog anesthesia.