dog dental cleaning under anesthesia

Veterinary Anesthesiologists are veterinarians who specialize in administering anesthesia to animals. They work with veterinarians to ensure that animals are safe during surgery and other procedures where anesthesia may be necessary.

Most veterinary procedures do not require anesthesia, but occasionally some do, like dental cleanings, surgery, and even x-rays.

Anesthesia is a “controlled unconsciousness“, where your pet’s level of consciousness is controlled so they don’t feel pain and don’t move.

Anesthesia helps reduce pain and discomfort by blocking nerve impulses in the body, which can help pets feel more comfortable and relaxed during treatment. In addition, administering anesthesia to pets may also be necessary to help prevent them from moving around and potentially injuring themselves while they are undergoing treatment.

There are several different types of anesthesia that may be used for pets, depending on the specific situation. These can include general anesthesia, which is typically administered to deep-sedate or fully anesthetize a pet so that they will remain unconscious during surgery. Depending on the type of surgery being performed, a vet might also choose to use local anesthesia, which is designed to numb a specific area of the body. Other types of anesthesia may be used depending on the specific needs and conditions of the pet.

Overall, it is clear that pets often need anesthesia in order to receive appropriate and effective treatment. Whether they are undergoing surgery or being treated for a serious illness, anesthesia can help them feel more comfortable and relaxed during treatment. As such, it is important to work closely with your vet to ensure that your pet receives the right type of anesthesia at the right dosage to minimize pain and discomfort while also helping them get well as quickly as possible.

It’s understandable to be anxious about your pet being anesthetized, but anesthesia for animals has come a long way and is safer than it ever was before. Having a well-trained veterinary team further reduces your pet’s risk.

Like any medical procedure, anesthesia does have risks. The most common adverse events experienced during and after general anesthesia are pain at the injection site, heartburn or sore throat. Postoperative nausea and vomiting is also a risk with anesthetic procedures. These side effects will be discussed by your doctor prior to any surgical procedure that requires anesthesia.

As with every medical procedure, there are risks associated with anesthesia. The most common adverse events include pain at the injection site, heartburn or sore throat. In addition, patients may experience nausea and vomiting after anesthesia. Prior to undergoing any surgical procedure requiring anesthesia, your doctor will discuss these risks with you in detail.

While serious complications can occur during and after anesthesia, these are relatively uncommon. Some of the more serious complications that can occur are blood clots in the legs, brain damage, and heart attack. However, it is important to note that these adverse effects are rare. In fact, several studies have shown that anesthesia is actually safer than general medical care for hospitalized patients.

Despite the risks associated with anesthesia, it is still a very important medical procedure. Anesthesia has helped to revolutionize medical care, making many types of surgery safer and more accessible than ever before. If you are considering a surgical procedure that requires anesthesia, it is important to discuss the risks with your doctor so you can make an informed decision. Additionally, if you have any concerns or questions following your anesthesia procedure, be sure to speak with your doctor. By working together, you can ensure a safe and successful anesthesia experience.

Before Your Pet Undergoes Anesthesia

Prior to receiving anesthesia, your veterinarian will ask you a series of questions about your pet.  He or she will want to know about your animal’s overall health, as well as its medical history, including any previous anesthesia experiences.  If it is the first time for elective surgery on an otherwise healthy animal, your vet may choose not to administer anesthetic and simply sedate your pet for the procedure.  If your animal is older, has significant health problems or has a history of anesthesia reactions, general anesthesia may be recommended to prevent complications during surgery and recovery.

As you prepare your pet for anesthesia, there are several things to keep in mind:

  • Before administering any type of anesthetic agent, it is important to run a number of health and safety checks, including taking your pet’s temperature, checking its breathing rate, listening to its heart rate, and palpating its abdomen for any unusual lumps or bumps.
  • Another key part of preparation is to stop feeding your pet several hours before the scheduled procedure.
  • Be sure to discuss any medications your pet is currently taking, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
  • If you are worried about the safety of anesthesia or concerned about your animal’s reaction to it, talk to your veterinarian ahead of time. He or she can work with you to create a customized plan that will keep both you and your pet safe and comfortable throughout the procedure.

Overall, when you prepare your pet for anesthesia, it is important to remain calm, communicate openly with your veterinarian, and follow any pre-surgery instructions that are given. By doing so, you can help ensure a safe and stress-free experience for both you and your pet.

During Anesthesia

After your pet is fully anesthetized, the surgical team will be able to safely and effectively perform any required procedures. Depending on the nature of your pet’s surgery, they may need to place a feeding tube or IV catheter. If your pet is having dental work done, they will thoroughly clean her teeth, smooth rough edges and repair any damage to her teeth and gums.

While your pet is under anesthesia, they will take the time to examine her thoroughly. This will include a full and careful exam of both ears. They will inspect for any signs of excess wax or dirt accumulation, which can cause problems in itself, but also may be indicative of allergies, ear mites, foreign objects stuck in the canal, dermatitis or other concerning conditions. They will also check out the throat and mouth, your pet’s teeth and gums, and will be looking at the eyes closely.

While under anesthesia, your pet will receive monitoring and care comparable to what you’d receive if you underwent anesthesia. This may include intravenous fluids and/or medications to support your pet’s circulation and blood pressure; an endotracheal tube inserted into your pet’s trachea (windpipe) to deliver the anesthetic gas and provide oxygen to your pet’s lungs; pulse oximetry to measure the oxygenation of your pet’s blood; blood pressure monitoring; temperature monitoring and warming blankets to prevent hypothermia (low body temperature); and electrocardiography (ECG, also called EKG) to monitor your pet’s heart.

After Anesthesia

Once the procedure is done and it’s time for your pet to wake up from the anesthesia,  they might still be a little sleepy and make sounds like they are still under it. The veterinarian will have to do a quick check on your pet to see if everything is still okay after surgery. When you bring them home, the best thing to give them is rest so that their body can recuperate from the procedure. Give them water and food if they want to eat, and watch them closely over the next few days.

Cats usually take a lot longer to recover from the anesthesia than dogs do. This is because cats are generally more sensitive to it than other animals. You will have to make sure you keep their environment free of stress while they’re recovering so that they can remain calm. This means you’ll have to limit the amount of time they are allowed outside, as well.

Once your pet is fully recovered, make sure to schedule another check-up with the veterinarian to ensure that everything went as planned during their procedure. If not, they will be able to go over any necessary post-operative care that might be needed.

Depending on the procedure and your pet’s medical condition, he or she may be sent home once they have adequately recovered from anesthesia.

“High Risk” Anesthesia

Anesthesia is considered “high risk” when your pet has health problems including heart, lung, kidney or liver conditions. Some anesthetics are considered safer than others based upon these conditions. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you if this is the case for your pet and recommend a specific type of anesthesia for him/her.

Anesthesia can also affect animals differently depending on their size – larger animals tend to tolerate anesthetics better than smaller ones. In addition, animals with thick fur may require a higher dose of anesthesia to achieve the same results as those with thinner coats because the fur acts as an insulator and slows down the absorption of the anesthetic.

As always, be sure to consult your vet before giving any type of medication or chemical substance to your pet.

Have Questions?

Your veterinarian will discuss the procedure and protocols with you, which should help ease your concerns. If your pet is at high risk for anesthesia or has had previous anesthesia complications, your veterinarian may choose to consult an anesthesia expert at or may refer you to a hospital with a board-certified anesthesiologist on staff.

What Can You Do to Reduce Your Pet’s Risk?

  • Let your veterinarian know if your pet has ever had a reaction to sedation or anesthesia
  • Make sure your veterinarian is aware of all medications and supplements (including over-the-counter products) your pet is receiving
  • Keep your pet healthy with regular preventive care
  • Keep your pet at a healthy weight
  • Take steps to prevent injuries to your pet whenever possible (avoiding emergencies that may require anesthesia)
  • Follow your veterinarian’s instructions before anesthesia, especially with regard to withholding food and/or water
  • Follow your veterinarian’s instructions regarding any medications you should – or should not – give to your pet prior to anesthesia