General anaesthetics - a safe approach for your pet

Some health problems and procedures may require your pet to have a general anaesthetic. These may include surgical and dental procedures, lump removal, radiographs and other conditions. Your veterinary healthcare team will only recommend an anaesthetic when it is absolutely necessary. 

The most common concerns owners have are:

  • Their pet is too old for an anaesthetic
  • There are underlying metabolic conditions, i.e. diabetes and hyperthyroidism
  • The potential for anaesthetic side effects
  • Their pet has had 'too many' anaesthetics

These are all valid concerns, however our practice has developed comprehensive safety policies to avoid complications.

There are many things that our healthcare team practise and recommend to reduce these risks and concerns including...

A Pre-Surgical Check

Prior to any general anaesthetic or sedation a pre-surgical examination is always performed on your pet by a veterinarian. This includes a full clinical examination (including heart rate, respiration rate and temperature), results will also highlight any other concerns relating to the upcoming procedure.

Pre-anaesthetic Blood Profile 

Our primary concern is the well-being of your pet. As some organ or blood disorders may not be detected by physical examination alone, we recommend a pre-anaesthetic blood test profile be performed prior to the anaesthetic. The results give us a more complete view of your pet's internal health before inducing anaesthesia and allow us to tailor the anaesthetic administration specifically to your pet's requirements. 

General Anaesthetics

During anaesthesia

Intravenous fluids (IVFs) 

IVFs given during the anaesthesia help maintain normal blood pressure throughout the surgery or procedure. They also assist the kidney and liver to flush anaesthetic agents out of the body to ensure a speedy recovery. 

An anaesthetic protocol for each and every pet

No two patients are the same so our healthcare team individualise every anaesthetic based on age, breed and general health. 

Anaesthetic monitoring

A trained veterinary nurse constantly monitors and records your pet's vital signs (heart and respiration rate, blood pressure etc) during the anaesthetic to ensure your pet remains stable throughout the procedure and into the recovery period.

We also use a multi-parameter anaesthetic monitor that checks blood pressure, oxygen levels and temperature throughout the procedure.

Body temperature

A pet's ability to regulate their body temperature is affected during an anaesthetic. To combat this they are kept warm on a heat pad and surrounded by special heat bags during the procedure. Your pet is placed on warm, soft bedding and wrapped in blankets and then checked and monitored through their recovery. 

Pain relief

Our pets do not show pain as humans do but they still feel it the same as we do. They often try to hide pain from us and may not complain as loudly. It has shown that humans recover better and faster if they are pain free and this is true in animals. Pro-active pain control is used in the hospital and we may also prescribe post-operative pain control for home use.

Follow-up call

A nurse will contact you within 48 hours after the procedure to check if your pet has recovered satisfactorily from the anaesthetic. We normally recommend a post operative check 1-2 weeks after the procedure.

Preparing the patient for General Anaesthetic

If your pet is having a sterile procedure performed we need to ensure your pet's skin and coat is as clean as possible.  Bathing your dog 1-3 days before the operation helps to provide a cleaner patient for their surgical clip and clean on the day.

Most pets will need to be fasted prior to an anaesthetic for a minimum of 6 hours and we usually recommend giving them their dinner the night before surgery but then no food after 8pm (so this means no breakfast the morning of surgery). In the case of very small pets (<2kg) or very young pets (<8 weeks), the recommendation is to fast for no more than 1-2 hours as they can be at risk of low blood sugar. Our nursing team will advise you of the fasting requirements for your pet. Water can remain avaliable for your pet until the morning of the procedure.

Toileting your patient on the morning of their anaesthetic is also recommended.  Some pets get shy going to the toilet in a strange environment and may try and hold on.  Providing your pet with opportunity before they arrive at the clinic is recommended.

Your pet will need to rest when they arrive back home after their anaesthetic, so ensure there is a nice warm and quiet place for them to recover when they arrive home.

Our recommendations

Our recommendations have been put in place to provide the safest anaesthetic possible for your pet while helping to alleviate some of your concerns. We always recommend dealing with any identified health issues early and promptly. Delaying surgery or a procedure under anaesthetic may result in more serious complications.

If you have any concerns regarding the anaesthetic or procedure we have recommended for your pet please feel free to ask our team for more information.