Not so Risky Business

By January 27, 2020 March 30th, 2020 Dental/Surgery

When your pet has to have surgery, it is normal to worry about your pet’s safety. Most people are not concerned with the procedure itself, but the anesthesia. Veterinary clinics can vary greatly in their anesthetic care and knowledge. Please be assured that here at Edgemont Veterinary Clinic, we have an excellent, competent team at our hospital, plus reliable and modern monitoring equipment that we use each and every time. As well, we have registered veterinary technicians and veterinarians monitoring your pet at all times. Continuing education is very important to us and we make sure to keep abreast of the most up-to-date knowledge on anesthetic procedures and complication prevention and management.

What are the risks with anesthesia?

While any anesthetic procedure has the element of risk, it is fairly uncommon. Studies have shown that the risk is about 1 in 2000 for healthy pets. For pets that have a pre-existing condition, the number increases to 1 in 500. So overall, the risk is about 0.05-0.2%. Some people are unaware that their pet may have a pre-existing condition, so this is why we have a veterinarian perform a physical exam before the procedure and strongly recommend pre-anesthetic bloodwork.

What kind of anesthesia do you use?

There are both injectable and inhalant anesthetics.  Some of these are reversible by other drugs, and some are not.  For longer procedures, the primary anesthesia we use is an inhalant gas. It will literally wear off as your pet breathes it out so there are no lasting effects. If your pet is groggy coming home, it is normally an effect of the pain medication, not the anesthesia itself. When we use the inhalant gas, we intubate your pet because it is safer than a face-mask. The inflated tubes maintain an open airway and also seal the airways from regurgitation to prevent aspiration pneumonia.

Will my pet feel any pain?

Anesthesia and analgesia are not the same thing. Analgesia is defined as pain management. Some people assume if you are going under for anesthesia, you are not going to feel any pain. This is not true. We employ multi-modal pain management and we assess our patient’s pain regularly, even while they are under anesthesia. All our surgery patients go home with pain medications as well. A pain-free patient is every staff member’s top priority.

Is my pet too old for anesthesia?

We must remember: age is not a disease. Sure, as your pets age, other disease processes tend to come along, but a pet’s age should not be a reason to avoid a necessary procedure. As pets get older, pre-anesthetic bloodwork must be done to check the function of the internal organs that have to process the anesthetic and pain medications. Depending on those results, we can reconsider anesthetic risks and adjust the anesthetic drugs to protect the patient. All our surgical patients have intravenous catheters for ready access to administer medications as well as intravenous fluids to help maintain blood pressure. Moreover, intravenous access guarantees an easy access port for emergency drugs if needed.

Hopefully this blog has helped alleviate some of your concerns regarding surgery and anesthetic risks. If you have any further questions, please contact us at Edgemont Veterinary Clinic and one of our veterinarians or registered veterinary technicians can have a discussion with you.