Anaesthesia in Dogs
Why is an
anaesthetised for one of four reasons - to minimise stress connected
with handling for a specific procedure; to allow surgery to be
undertaken; as an emergency treatment, eg for an animal suffering
from fits; and to ensure the health and safety of veterinary and
my animal need to be starved of food and water?
If an animal
has a full stomach it is more likely to vomit and inhale the vomit
during induction of anaesthesia or on recovery. Also, during an
anaesthetic, the bulk of a full stomach may reduce the animalís
ability to breathe properly. Therefore, you should not feed your pet
for approximately six hours before the anaesthetic procedure. You
should however provide water especially if the animal is old or ill.
the risks of anaesthesia?
one in 1,000 apparently healthy animals die, either during
anaesthesia or while recovering. This figure increases to
approximately one in 30 animals with existing serious illnesses.
which have been found to contribute to death include gastric
torsion, severe vomiting and diarrhoea, heart problems and severe
chest or breathing problems.
Pre-anaesthetic checks, eg blood tests and x-rays are important to
identify an undiagnosed conditions. You should ensure that your pet
is as fit as possible, ie neither too fat or too thin and well
Tell your vet
as much as possible about the animal, eg if it drinks or eats a lot,
coughs, vomits, or has diarrhoea. These signs could indicate a
condition which may influence the anaesthetic. However, every cough
and sneeze does not mean the animal will die under anaesthetic.
the best anaesthetic for my pet?
There is no
single anaesthetic which is best for every animal and condition.
Each situation should be considered individually. Your vet will have
developed his/her own drug protocols, based upon previous
experience, and is therefore the best person to select the drug(s)
any particular breeds sensitive to risks of anaesthesia?
answer is no. However, breeds which are naturally very thin may take
a long time to recover from thiopentone as this tends to deposit in
fat. Brachycephalic dogs, such as Boxers, tend to have high cardiac
tone which certain sedatives, eg acepromazine, may affect. Likewise
due to their upper airway anatomy they can easily obstruct during
The weight of
very hairy/fluffy dogs can be greatly over-estimated if judged by
eye and not actually weighed. Thus Huskies, Samoyeds, Belgian
Shepherds etc have tended to gain a reputation for being sensitive
to certain anaesthetics for this reason.
animal too old for anaesthetic?
No, age is
not a contraindication for anaesthesia. However, an older animal may
need careful assessment to identify acquired heart or kidney
problems which may have an influence on the anaesthetic risk. It is
worth remembering that some 14 year old dogs are physiologically
much younger than some 8 year olds.
should I expect my pet to be like after an anaesthetic?
Donít be in
too much of a rush to take your pet home - particularly if the vet
appears reluctant to let it go. The recovery period is much safer at
the vets where they have the equipment and knowledge to deal with
any problem that may occur. Your animal should be able to stand,
cough and swallow unaided before being taken home.
consult your vet if your pet sleeps for a long time after arriving
home, or behaves out of character in any way. All animals will be
slightly sleepy and quiet for a few hours but this shouldnít extend
offer small amounts of food and drink often for the first 12 hours.
Like humans, your pet may feel slightly nauseous after a general
pet have any pain relief after surgery?
anaesthetics and analgesics, there is a range of options for pain
relief. This may take the form of local anaesthetics around the
surgical site, epidurals, morphine-type drugs or aspirin-type drugs.
Pain relief measures may be continued at home for some days by
tablet administration. However, do not give your dog any analgesics
unless prescribed by your vet.