Westbury Animal Hospital
713.723.3666 · 4917 S. Willow Dr. Houston, Texas 77035 

 Anesthesia for Your Pet's Surgery

Making the decision to have your pet undergo surgery and the necessary anesthesia, which accompanies this procedure, is often a difficult decision due to the unknowns about the anesthesia process. This article will address surgical anesthesia and how it relates to your pets in order to abate some common fears and questions.

The anesthesia process actually begins the night prior to the surgical procedure. Your veterinarian will ask you to stop food and water after a certain time the day before the operation. This fasting is important as a full stomach can make it difficult for your pet to breathe under anesthesia due to the pressure that food and gases place on the diaphragm. Also, the pre-anesthesia given to pets can sometimes cause vomiting; which can cause both an unpleasant experience for your pet and lead to anesthetic complications such as pneumonia.

On the morning of your pet’s surgical procedure, several steps are followed in order to prepare for anesthesia. Your pet is weighed in order to obtain an accurate body weight for calculating the correct anesthesia drug dosages. Then your pet is given a mixture of two or three drugs just under the skin, called a Pre-Anesthetic drug mixture. This mixture of drugs helps calm your pet before the procedure. Veterinarians rely on a mixture of small doses of multiple drugs instead of one single anesthetic, a method called Multi-Modal Anesthesia. This method ensures a better and safer anesthetic event due to the synergistic effect of these drugs and the reduced risk of an overdose of any one particular drug.

In the 30-minutes to one-hour period that it takes the pre-anesthetic mixture to take effect in your pet and allow your pet to relax, the veterinary technical staff will place an intravenous catheter and draw the necessary blood to run laboratory tests pertinent to the surgical procedure.

Once the veterinarian has interpreted the laboratory results and determined anesthesia is safe for your pet, he or she will give an Induction Agent to your pet. An Induction agent is a drug such as Propofol which will cause your pet to become completely anesthetized so that your veterinarian can place an endo-tracheal tube in your pet’s trachea for oxygen delivery and breathing control while under anesthesia. The induction agent is usually very fast acting. Once the endo-tracheal tube has been secured in place then oxygen and a Maintenance Anesthetic Drug are delivered through the endo-tracheal tube. Maintenance Anesthetic drugs are numerous, however the most common used in veterinary medicine is Isoflourane gas. The technical staff is very busy monitoring your pet’s heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and oxygenation status during the entire procedure. By continuously monitoring all of these parameters throughout the entire procedure, the technical staff and veterinarian can make small adjustments to ensure the safety of the anesthetic event.

At the completion of the surgery, the technical staff will stop the flow of anesthetic drug to your pet, and within a few short minutes your pet will start to wake up. The time to fully wake up from anesthesia varies from pet to pet, but rest assured that the technical staff will create a warm, soft environment around your pet so that the recovery process is as smooth as possible.

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