At Gladstone Veterinary Clinic, we strive to make your pet’s anesthetic procedure as safe as possible. We reduce risks of anesthesia by performing pre-anesthetic labwork and having a dedicated Certified Veterinary Technician using sophisticated patient monitoring equipment.

We also work with Board-Certified Anesthesiologist Dr. Heidi Shafford (Veterinary Anesthesia Specialists, LLC) on higher-risk cases.

Pre-Anesthetic Testing

We perform pre-anesthetic labwork to help alert us to any problems with organ function or to hidden health conditions that could interfere with your pet’s ability to properly process and eliminate the anesthesia he or she is given. These lab results can also serve as a baseline for comparison with any future laboratory data.

Pre-anesthetic labwork may include a complete blood count and mini-chemistry panel, or a more extensive panel depending on your pet’s age, health status, and the procedure to be performed. Your veterinarian will usually perform labwork prior to the day of the anesthetic procedure, so that a plan can be developed in the event of any abnormal results.

The Night Before the Procedure

For cats and dogs over 12 weeks of age, we recommend withholding food the night before anesthesia, starting at midnight. Your pet can have access to water up until the admission time for the procedure. This decreases the likelihood that there will be food in your pet’s stomach, should he or she regurgitate during anesthesia. Allowing access to water up until the time of admission helps prevent dehydration, which may compromise a patient’s health under anesthesia.

Young puppies/kittens, pets with health conditions such as diabetes, and exotic pets will receive special instructions regarding withholding food prior to anesthesia.

Admission for Your Pet’s Procedure

Our Client Care Representatives will assist you in making an appointment for a specific admission time between 7:30 and 8:30 the morning of your pet’s procedure. A veterinary team consisting of a doctor, a Certified Veterinaary Technician, and a technician’s assistant is devoted to your pet from the time of admission until he or she is discharged. Our goal is to provide continuity of care throughout your pet’s
pre-anesthetic exam, anesthetic procedure, and recovery. Please allow 10-20 minutes for a certified technician to review the procedure and perform an initial evaluation of your pet during the admission appointment.

Pre-Anesthetic Examination

A pre-anesthetic exam is always performed by the doctor performing the anesthetic/surgical procedure on the day of an anesthetic procedure, even if an exam was performed just the day before. Because our pets can’t tell us when they don’t feel well, we perform a thorough inspection of your pet’s organ systems and vital signs to check for any changes or subtle indications of illness prior to anesthesia.

Pre-Medication

For procedures requiring general anesthesia, injectable medications (known as premedications) are often given to provide sedation prior to intravenous catheter placement, to reduce the amount of anesthetic induction agent required to induce anesthesia, and to reduce the amount of anesthetic gas required to maintain anesthesia. These drugs also typically provide some pain relief during and after the procedure, although additional pain medications are given for painful procedures.

Intravenous Catheter and Fluids

An IV catheter and IV fluids provide support for kidneys and the cardiovascular system, as well assisting to maintain blood pressure under general anesthesia. An IV catheter also allows immediate venous access for medication administration and in the event of an emergency.

Anesthetic Induction, Monitoring, and Pain Control

Prior to induction of anesthesia, technicians take baseline vital signs, such as temperature, pulse, respiration, blood oxygen levels, and blood pressure measurements. Our team also administers oxygen therapy to the patient to saturate blood oxygen levels immediately prior to anesthesia.

For typical surgical and dental procedures, a short-acting injectable anesthetic medication is used to induce anesthesia, and an endotracheal tube is placed to provide a secure airway to deliver anesthetic gas throughout your pet’s procedure. Additional pain medications are typically given immediately after induction of anesthesia, depending on the surgical procedure. Administering pain relief medication prior to a painful event is much more effective than treating pain after it has already occurred.

A Bair-Hugger forced-air warming device is used to safely keep your pet warm under anesthesia, which helps support vital organ function and ensure a smoother, quicker recovery. Vital signs are continuously monitored by a certified technician trained and dedicated to providing the safest level of anesthesia.

All major surgical procedures are performed inside a sterile surgical suite, much like those used in human medicine. We do everything we can to minimize the risk of infection.

We can also microchip your pet while he or she is under anesthesia. Microchips are a great way to help reunite you and a lost pet.

Anesthetic Recovery

Following the procedure, the surgery team continues monitoring your pet very closely throughout the recovery process. No patient recovers from anesthesia without the comfort and safety of an anesthesia technician right beside them. A member of your pet’s surgery team will call you after your pet wakes up from anesthesia.

Patient Discharge

Most patients are discharged after 4pm the day of the procedure, with specific written instructions for after-care, including any medications. We are firm advocates for our patients and provide pain control to go home for all of our surgical cases. We want your pet to be comfortable post-operatively.

Your pet will likely have a shaved area on one or both forelimbs where and IV catheter was placed, and on the back of one limb where a blood pressure measurement was taken. A mild cough is not uncommon for a day or two after an anesthetic procedure due to irritation from an endotracheal tube.

Follow-Up

We’ll follow-up with a phone call a day or two after your pet’s surgical procedure to make sure he or she is healing and recovering properly and to answer any questions you may have. If there is anything that you need or are concerned about, please feel free to call our clinic or for after-hours advice or care, call VCA Northwest Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Service or DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital.