Can my pet have a reaction to anaesthesia?
The vast majority of pets experience no adverse effects from anaesthesia or sedation. However older patients and those with pre-existing diseases do pose a greater risk and may therefore require diagnostics or treatment ahead of anaesthesia. Risks of anaesthesia vary in severity from relatively minor changes (such as excessive sleepiness in the recovery period) to more significant events (such as organ damage, allergic reaction, vomiting, aspiration pneumonia, neurological disease) and in very rare cases even death. The highest risk period for anaesthesia is actually during recovery, for this reason pets continue to be continuously monitored until they have fully recovered.
Every effort is made to minimise these risks and your pet will be monitored closely before, during and after anaesthesia/sedation in order to identify any problems as soon as possible.
How do you make anaesthesia/sedation safer?
The most important thing when it comes to patient safety under anaesthesia/sedation is preparation. Prior to anaesthesia a full clinical history will be taken followed by a though physical examination in order to identify any areas of concern that may impact on anaesthesia or sedation. Where there are concerns regarding a patient’s stability for anaesthesia, additional diagnostic investigations or treatments may need to be undertaken prior to their planned procedure. Your pet will be monitored very closely from the point of premedication until they have fully recovered from anaesthesia by our team of veterinary surgeons and registered veterinary nurses.
During the anaesthetic or sedation your pet’s vital parameters (such as heart & rhythm, blood pressure, respiratory rate & pattern, neurological status, body temperature, tissue oxygenation and carbon dioxide concentration) will be monitored continuously in order to better evaluate your pet’s condition and adapt to any ongoing changes.
Is my pet too old to undergo anaesthesia?
As pets age they are slightly more likely to experience adverse effects around the time of anaesthesia. Despite this, anaesthesia for older patients is always advisable where the benefits of the procedure outweigh these risks. For instance, a dog or cat with chronic dental disease is likely to benefit greatly from anaesthesia for dental surgery given the dramatic improvement this will have on their quality of life. As our older patients are more likely to have underlying health conditions, there are instances where we advise undertaking pre-anaesthetic blood screening (and in some cases other diagnostic procedures such as echocardiography) in order to obtain as much information regarding the patient as possible. This means that the anaesthetic can be better tailored to your pet and the risk of adverse effects minimised.
Should you have any specific questions regarding anaesthesia for older patients, please speak to your vet or nurse ahead of your pet’s planned procedure.