What happens when your pet has an anaesthetic?

Here at the practice, we might need to give your pet sedation or anaesthesia for a variety of reasons, for example:

  • Neutering
  • Dentistry
  • To take x-rays
  • If your pet is anxious or aggressive, and we cannot properly or safely examine them when awake

We perform general anaesthetics (G.A.s) and sedation every week day and regard it as routine, but we appreciate that as an owner, your animal may never have had an anaesthetic before and you will understandably have questions and concerns. Hopefully this page will answer those worries, but you can always talk to us in the practice too!

Before any drug is given to your pet, a vet will perform a health check. We may also perform a pre-anaesthetic blood test. This blood test looks at how well your pet’s kidneys and liver are functioning, as these are the organs that deal with removing the anaesthetic drugs from the body. We also check for any signs of anaemia or infection. We will offer you this test when we admit your pet, and we strongly recommend it for ill animals and older pets so that we can make the best choices for your pet’s care. For example, it will often tell us if they need fluids or further treatment before it would be safe to continue.When you bring your pet in for G.A. or sedation, we ask that they are fasted. This means that they have had no food for 12 hours before admission. This reduces the risk of your animal vomiting under anaesthetic, which is a very serious complication, as vomited material can enter the airways and cause pneumonia. If you pet has had access to food, we will delay your pet’s procedure to avoid this risk.

Once we have admitted your pet for their procedure, and given them their check up and blood test, we will administer a pre-med. This is an injection with a combination of a sedative agent to relax your pet, and pain relief, which is always more effective if given before an operation.

When the pre-med has had time to work, we will then give a second injection called an induction. This is the injection that makes your pet fall asleep. As soon as they lose consciousness, we then place a tube into your animal’s windpipe and connect this to a mixture of oxygen and anaesthetic gas to maintain your pet under G.A.

A nurse is constantly supervising your pet’s vital signs until they are fully conscious again, and they will notify the vet preforming the procedure if they have any concerns.

At admission, we ask that you call us at certain time. This is when we expect to have finished your pet’s procedure and give you a report on their progress, as well as a likely discharge time. At discharge we will give you detailed instructions on post-op care, including any medications for you to use following the operation, and schedule check-ups to ensure your pet’s recovery and healing are as expected.