When an animal is brought in for surgery it should be evaluated as to its overall health. A thorough physical exam is done prior to administering any drugs to determine that the patient is “low-risk” Pre-existing health problems such as heart and respiratory conditions, liver or kidney disease, infections, or hormonal imbalances need to be identified Extra precautions should also be taken with older animals and breeds with short muzzles such as pugs English bulldogs, Boston terriers, PekInese, Shitzus and cats such as Persians and Himalayans.
A pre-surgical blood test is recommended to check kidney, liver and glucose levels, and identify any abnormal blood cell counts. If all tests and evaluations look good, an intravenous catheter is inserted and the patient is started on IV fluids to keep the blood pressure up and the organs functioning properly during the procedure. The catheter also gives the veterinarian direct access to the vascular system for administering drugs.
For most procedures the patient is given pre anesthetic drugs such as sedatives and or narcotics to relax the animal and begin preemptive pain management.
When the patient is ready to be anesthetized it is given an induction drug such as propofol or ketamine. An endotracheal is tube is inserted into the windpipe and gas anesthesia like isoflurane or sevoflurane is administered which keeps the animal “under” for the length of the procedure.
The most important part of anesthesia is the monitoring so the level can be adjusted as needed. This requires a trained technician to continually watch the monitor and physically check and evaluate the patient.
The highest risk to the patient is during recovery which is the time from when the anesthesia is discontinued until the animal is awake. They must be watched closely to make sure they are breathing well and their heart rate and body temperature are normal.
With the proper precautions and care the risk of anesthesia can be minimized. If a pet owner has concerns about anesthesia they should discuss this with their veterinarian and even ask to watch while the procedure is done.