Many pet parents are scared or reluctant to have their furry friends undergo anesthesia for a medical or surgical  procedure. However, advances in modern veterinary medicine, combined with our highly trained Mill Creek Animal Hospital veterinary team, vastly decrease the risks during procedures requiring anesthesia. Anesthetic deaths are extremely rare in healthy pets, although pet parents should always consider the risks before approving any surgical procedure. Elective procedures, including dental cleanings, spays, and neuters, are extremely safe and ultimately increase your pet’s quality of life. Prior to surgery, each pet will receive an individualized anesthetic protocol, and you can rest assured that your Mill Creek Animal Hospital team has multiple safety measures in place to ensure every pet is safe during every phase of any procedure.

Before your pet’s anesthesia: A complete examination

Prior to any procedure requiring anesthesia, your Mill Creek veterinarian will examine your pet completely from nose to tail, and review your pet’s medical history and potential risk factors. Always share with your veterinarian any over-the counter-medications or supplements you give your pet, and any previous problems your pet had with anesthesia. Additionally, pre-anesthesia blood work will be completed to ensure your pet is able to properly metabolize anesthesia medications, and to look for any abnormalities or potential risk factors. Blood work includes evaluation of the liver, kidneys, and blood sugar, as well as red blood cell counts, and perhaps a more extensive blood panel, depending on your pet’s age and health. The veterinarian will also give instructions, such as withholding food, that you must follow the night before your pet’s procedure. 

During your pet’s anesthesia: Constant monitoring

General anesthesia ensures that your pet remains asleep, relaxed, and pain-free during their procedure. They will first receive an injection of a sedative to decrease any stress, and an intravenous (IV) catheter will be placed to allow quick delivery of fluids and medications. A Mill Creek Animal Hospital patient care team member will closely observe your pet throughout, using an advanced monitoring system that will continuously measure the following: 

  • Heart rate and rhythm An echocardiogram(EKG) monitors your pet’s heart rhythm and rate, and can immediately detect any arrhythmias or abnormalities. 
  • Blood oxygen — A pulse oximeter monitors your pet’s blood oxygen level, which should be close to 100%. 
  • Blood pressure Blood pressure often decreases during surgery because of certain anesthetic drugs, so your pet’s blood pressure will be monitored, and they will be placed on IV fluids to support circulation and improve blood pressure. 
  • Core body temperature — All animals, especially cats and small dogs, lose some body heat during anesthesia, so we use heat therapy, including warm blankets, during and after all anesthetic procedures. 
  • Respiratory rate and carbon dioxide levels — A veterinary technician will use a capnograph to continuously monitor your pet’s breathing rate and carbon dioxide levels and, should the levels become abnormal, will manually regulate your pet’s breathing rate to ensure enough oxygen is delivered to their bloodstream and lungs. 

In the highly unlikely event that your pet has a problem during anesthesia, your veterinary team is always ready with a full range of emergency equipment and medications they can immediately administer to your pet. 

After your pet’s anesthesia: Supervised recovery and post-surgery care

Once your pet’s surgery is completed, they are moved from the surgery suite to a quiet kennel to recover under a veterinary technician’s supervision, and ensure they wake up properly. We will continue to monitor your pet’s vital signs and body temperature, and to provide heat therapy until they are fully awake. The endotracheal tube in their windpipe will be kept in place until they can swallow normally. They may also receive additional medication to prevent post-surgery pain or stress. Your Mill Creek veterinarian will also provide detailed instructions about any medications or precautions your pet will need during their recovery. 

If you have any questions or concerns about your pet being anesthetized, or would like to discuss our Mill Creek Animal Hospital’s safety protocols, call our office, or schedule an appointment. We are always ready to help put your mind at ease.