Anesthesia is administered to most dogs when they are spayed and neutered, and the majority of our canine companions will require it at least once during their lifetime for a procedure. Today, our Laguna Beach vets explain what you should know about anesthesia for dogs. 

In What Situations Might My Dog Need Anesthesia?

As a dog owner, you want what's best for your pup's health, which means they may sometimes need to be sedated or have anesthesia to undergo veterinary treatment. In this article, we'd like to put any concerns you might have about anesthesia to rest - it is a safe, effective way to ensure your pet remains pain-free and still during procedures like spaying and neutering, various other surgeries, or dental appointments. 

While your dog is under anesthesia, they will be placed into a regulated state of unconsciousness, allowing the veterinarian to perform the treatment without your pup moving or experiencing pain. While some pet owners may be apprehensive about how safe their dog will be while under anesthesia, your vet will tell you most healthy pets have no issues with this aspect of procedures.

In fact, any potential dangers related to anesthesia are typically linked to the treatment being conducted rather than the anesthetic itself. 

So, rest easy knowing that your pup is in good hands during procedures that require anesthesia. Your veterinarian will take all necessary precautions to ensure your dog is treated safely and successfully and that they feel better as soon as possible. 

What are the Risk Factors of Anesthesia?

Many pet owners worry about the risks involved with veterinary procedures that require their four-legged friend to be sedated. While anesthesia is generally considered safe, it's important to understand potential complications that may occur during or after treatment. 

One common concern is that sedated patients lose their ability to swallow, which can cause your dog to vomit if they have food in their stomach. This is why your veterinarian will recommend fasting your dog before their procedure to minimize this risk. 

It's also worth keeping in mind that some dogs may be more susceptible to the effects of anesthesia than others. Factors like your dog's size, age, breed, and general health can contribute to determining their anesthetic risk. Puppies and senior dogs may be more vulnerable to changes in specific organs or systems while they are under anesthesia. In the case of puppies, this is due to the stage of development of particular organs or systems, while senior dogs' systems are sometimes weaker than a healthier adult dog's. 

Of course, anesthesia's potential hazards aren't limited to the actual administration of the drug. In fact, almost half of all anesthetic-related canine deaths happen within the first few hours after surgery. While this may feel alarming to learn, remember that many of these deaths are associated with the specific procedure a dog has undergone rather than the anesthesia itself. 

So, what can you do to help keep your four-legged companion safe during anesthesia? Fasting is a good first step, as your vet will suggest. It's also important to remain vigilant and closely monitor your dog after the procedure. And, as always, never hesitate to ask your veterinarian any questions or express concerns you may have - your vet is there to help support th best possible outcome for you and your beloved pooch. 

How Can I Reduce the Risk of Anesthesia-Related Complications in My Dog?

Here are some actions you can take to reduce the risk of anesthesia-related complications for your dog:

  • Let your veterinarian know if your dog has ever reacted to anesthesia or sedation. 
  • Confirm your vet knows about each medication and/or supplement (over-the-counter products) your dog takes. 
  • Follow your veterinarian's instructions before anesthesia, especially regarding withholding medications, food, and water. 

A vet will typically perform diagnostic tests before placing your dog under anesthesia prior to surgery. These tests include:

  • Chemistry tests to assess liver, kidney, and pancreatic function, as well as sugar levels 
  • A complete blood count (CBC) to rule out blood-related conditions
  • Electrolyte tests to check that your dog isn't dehydrated or suffering from an electrolyte imbalance

In addition to blood tests, your vet might also recommend the following:

  • A catheter is part of the anesthetic preparation. The catheter can be used to provide anesthetics and intravenous fluids to keep your pet hydrated. Further, if needed, it would serve as a pathway to directly administer life-saving medications, should a crisis arise.
  • Intravenous fluids to help maintain hydration and blood pressure. IV fluids also help your dog with recovery by aiding the liver and kidneys in clearing the body of anesthetic agents more quickly.

All of these steps are designed to make sure your pet undergoes a successful treatment without any complications arising from the anesthesia.

Why Do I Need to Sign an Anesthetic Consent Form?

When it comes to your dog's health, you want to ensure you have all the information you need to make informed decisions. That's why it's crucial to understand what's involved in any procedures requiring anesthesia and be aware of any potential risks.

Before your dog undergoes surgery or another diagnostic testing, your veterinarian will provide you with a consent form outlining the details of the treatment and its estimated cost. In many places, it's also a legal requirement for the vet to obtain written consent from the owner before administering anesthesia.

This consent process ensures that you're fully informed about what's going to happen and allows you to ask any questions or voice any concerns you may have. By clearly understanding the procedure and its potential risks, you can feel more confident in your decision to proceed and can help your dog get the care they need.

So, next time your furry friend requires anesthesia, take the time to review the consent form carefully, and don't be afraid to speak up if you have any questions or concerns. Your veterinarian is there to help you navigate the process and provide the best possible care for your beloved pet.

Do Vets Monitor an Anesthetized Dog?

Yes, we do! Several practices are in place to make sure your dog doesn't suffer any complications from anesthesia. These include:

  • A technician or assistant is present during the anesthetic event to monitor your dog’s vital signs and to help adjust anesthetic levels, under the direction of the veterinarian.
  • A heart rate monitor counts your pet’s heartbeats per minute. Anesthesia and other factors can affect heart rate. By monitoring your dog’s heart rate, your veterinarian can make anesthetic adjustments quickly.
  • An electrocardiogram (ECG) measures your dog's heart rate and rhythm. It can detect arrhythmias, which are irregular heartbeats. If an arrhythmia is discovered, your veterinarian can adjust your anesthetic accordingly.
  • If your dog is enduring a lengthy surgical treatment, his core body temperature may be monitored. Body temperature fluctuations might lead to serious problems.
  • A blood pressure monitor measures the blood pressure of your dog. It provides detailed information on your pet's cardiovascular state when used with other monitoring equipment.
  • Pulse oximetry may be used to monitor the amount of oxygen in your dog's blood and her pulse rate. 
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) is frequently monitored alongside oxygen because it helps assess if your pet is getting enough oxygen under anesthesia.

How Long Does Anesthesia Last In Dogs?

Many dogs feel sleepy or tired for 12 to 24 hours after anesthesia. Your dog should be virtually normal by the time he is discharged. If your dog appears to act particularly weird after anesthesia, or you are unable to rouse them quickly, contact the hospital right away for specific guidance.

Always make sure to follow any post-surgery advice your vet gives you for a speedy recovery.

Why is My Dog Acting Weird After Anesthesia?

As a pet owner, the thought of your furry friend undergoing anesthesia can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. On the one hand, it's amazing that we have the technology to perform procedures without causing pain or discomfort. But on the other hand, we've all heard those scary stories of unexpected reactions and strange behaviors after the process is done.

If you've ever had a pet undergo anesthesia, you might have noticed some strange behaviors in the hours following the procedure. Things like whining, excessive sleep, and even accidents around the house are all common side effects of the drugs used to prevent pain during the process. While seeing your dog acting strangely can be unnerving, it's important to remember that these behaviors are usually temporary and should subside within 12–18 hours.

Of course, keeping a close eye on your pet after anesthesia is always a good idea to make sure they're recovering properly. If you have any concerns or notice any unusual symptoms, don't hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian for guidance.

So, while anesthesia can be a bit frightening, it's also an incredible tool that allows us to keep our pets healthy and pain-free. And with a little patience and some extra TLC, your furry friend will be back to their normal, happy self in no time.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you have questions about anesthesia or your dog's upcoming surgery? Contact our Laguna Beach animal hospital today to book a consultation.