The vet’s office: Easing the fears regarding anesthesia and sedation in pets
By Dr. Beth Engelbert, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
With the advancements of veterinary procedures that are done today, anesthesia or sedation is frequently needed. Anesthesia is scary for many pet owners, but the medications used today are much safer than before. Sedation can lead to less stress for pets and owners alike, which results in improved treatments and hopefully faster recovery times.
There are many drugs available to veterinarians to help calm and sedate pets. These drugs have been rigorously tested and affect most pets in a predictable manner. Pills, injections, and gases are available, and the ones used can be tailored to each pet and each procedure. Some veterinarians may implement different protocols than others as most use the drugs with which they are most comfortable. Anesthetics are often used in combination to decrease the overall amount of drugs used.
Monitoring of the patient for adverse effects is key to success. Veterinary technicians frequently do the monitoring and alert the veterinarian to any changes. Heart monitors and blood pressure machines go hand in hand with observing and listening. Many drugs are reversible for faster recovery times.
Sedation is different than full anesthesia. Sedation affects the conscious, and anesthesia affects the conscious and subconscious, including some of the reflexes. Additional steps are used with fully anesthetized patients such as intravenous (IV) catheters, IV fluids, and endotracheal (“breathing”) tubes, and warming sources are needed.
Many anesthetic procedures are planned ahead such as dentals or surgeries like growth removals or neutering. Many vets recommend lab work prior to such procedures to check organ function and to evaluate the pet’s ability to metabolize the needed drugs. These tests are always good to do but become very important as pets age. Lab work may include urine analysis, blood chemistries, and a complete blood cell count to check a pet’s red and white blood cells.
While there are risks with any sedation or anesthesia, do not let that stop you from providing medical treatments for your pet. Look for a veterinarian that has protocols in place to make anesthesia and sedation as safe as they can possibly be so that you are comfortable pursuing the recommended dental procedure, growth removal, or other needed operation. Your pet will thank you.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.