PREPARING YOUR PET for GENERAL ANESTHESIA

There are several steps that a pet owner may take to help your veterinarian plan for a successful general anesthesia and surgery.

1. Communicate concerns about your pet’s health to your veterinarian prior to scheduling surgery. Any signs of exercise intolerance, weight loss, a recent change in urination or defecation, and mental alertness are particularly informative and may require further diagnostic workup.
2. Withhold all food from pets scheduled for elective surgery for at least 12 hours prior to arriving at your veterinarian’s clinic. The presence of food in a pet’s stomach will greatly increase the likelihood of aspiration of food into the lungs, should your pet vomit during induction of general anesthesia. Usually water is NOT with held but check with your veterinarian.
3. Balance your desire to keep your pet in show condition with the knowledge that the risk of infections increases greatly if the skin overlying the IV catheter site is not properly disinfected prior to IV catheter placement. Proper disinfect ion requires clipping of the fur overlying a suitable vein.
4. Follow your veterinarian’s discharge instructions. If you have small children at home, be careful not to leave your dog alone with the small child even for just a few minutes. Remember, all animals recovering from all general anesthetics may react unpredictably for several days.

POST ANESTHETIC CONSIDERATIONS
After general anesthesia, animals are likely to be affected by the anesthetic drugs for several days.

An animal may exhibit behavioral changes for several days after general anesthesia. They may act as if they do not recognize familiar surroundings, people or other animals. Behavioral changes after general anesthesia are extremely common; fortunately they usually resolve within a few days. Do not leave young children unattended with an animal that has just recovered from general anesthesia no matter how trustworthy that animal normally is. Remember, your pet has been through a lot and probably won’t fully recover and be himself/herself for several days. There are reports of normally well-behaved dogs returning home after surgery and anesthesia and biting young children for no apparent reason.

The pet’s ability to control its body temperature may be affected during the recovery period. Many anesthetics alter the temperature set point in the brain and cause blood vessels in the skin to dilate promoting heat loss. Conversely, an animal’s natural cooling mechanisms may be unable to adequately respond to increases in environmental temperature. For the first few days after general anesthesia, it is recommended to keep your pet in a warm, though not overly hot room. Cold weather breeds such as Malamutes and Huskies tend to retain heat easily and a cooler environment may be more appropriate for these breeds.

Obese animals often have delayed recoveries. Most general anesthetics are very fat soluble so the greater the amount of body fat and the longer the animal is anesthetized, the greater amount of anesthetic agent that will be absorbed into body fat. Anesthetic taken up by body fat will leach back into an animal’s blood for days or even weeks after anesthesia. This low residual amount of anesthetic may continue to affect an animal’s behavior for several days. .