Your pet's safety is our number one priority.
Our skilled doctors will develop a surgical, anesthetic, and pain management plan customized to your pet.
Step One: Physical Exam
The first step in any health care plan is for our attentive doctors to evaluate your pet. During this visit, the doctor will perform a physical examination and consult with you about your pet’s concerns. Based on the findings and your discussion, as well as your pet’s breed, age, and prior medical history, they may recommend an anesthetic procedure as the best option for your pet. In this case, they may also suggest additional laboratory testing before anesthesia. After gathering all of the information, the doctor will use the most recent research and recommendations to create a surgical, anesthetic, and pain management plan tailored to your pet. With careful consideration toward keeping your pet safe, calm, and comfortable throughout their visit our doctors prepare their plan to balance the ideal selection of sedatives, pain medications, local and regional treatments, and injectable or inhaled general anesthetics. Because each procedure and anesthetic plan is personalized the process described here may differ slightly for your pet.
Hospital admission is a valuable part of the pre-anesthetic process.
Anesthetic events are usually scheduled at least a few weeks in advance. In the days leading up to the surgery every owner will receive a reminder either via email, text, or call to remind you when and where to admit your pet and to review instructions including withholding food after 10 PM the night prior to surgery. The admission process is the next important step in keeping your pet safe during surgery. This is our final check in to make sure the surgical plan we have in place matches your understanding of what your pet needs, that we know when your pet was last fed, which medications have or have not been given, and collect any other important information– including a way to contact you with any additional questions, clarifications, or updates while your pet is with us.
The process for general anesthesia.
To ensure the safety of your pet, only veterinarians and licensed veterinary technicians prepare and administer anesthetic agents. In most cases, the first step in anesthetic induction begins when your pet receives an injection which sedates and provides pain control both during and after the procedure. With the comfort of the mild sedative, your pet will receive an intravenous (IV) catheter. Once the IV is in place, your pet is given second relaxing agent through the IV in order to make it possible to pass an endotracheal tube. The endotracheal (ET) tube is placed to deliver the general anesthetic gas.
Supportive measures we use to keep your pet safe.
There are many general safety measures in place within the hospital that affect surgical patients, but we will only cover those that are specific to surgery. The first crucial safety measure is the placement of the IV catheter through which we give intravenous fluids. The fluids support your pet’s blood pressure as well as having the added benefit of helping your pet flush the anesthetic medications from their body after surgery. The IV catheter also grants direct access to your pet’s vein to give routine or emergency medications.
Because your pet is unable to swallow while under anesthesia, an ET tube is used to seal off your pet’s airway. This ensures that your pet does not inhale fluids or foreign materials while sleeping, which could lead to aspiration pneumonia. The ET tube allows us to deliver oxygen alongside the anesthetic gas, allowing us to keep their blood oxygen levels safe.
Finally, we use forced air warming blankets and circulating warm water pads to help your pet maintain their temperature and improve blood circulation. Both of these warming methods are specifically designed with the safety of immobile patients in mind, as they eliminate the risk of contact burns that many other arrangements have been known to cause.
Our attentive monitoring is an essential part of your pet’s health.
Once your pet is admitted, they will receive a brief physical examination and two checks of their vitals before any medications are administered. A staff member is assigned to your pet when the first medication is given. That team member will be by your pet’s side until they begin to ease into a very drowsy state. While the IV catheter and ET tube are placed a staff member will manually check your pet’s vitals until monitoring leads can be attached. The same machines used in human medicine are used to observe and record respiratory and cardiac rate, heartbeat pattern, blood pressure, body temperature, and blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. Throughout your pet’s procedure their vitals are viewed routinely by the doctor, technician, and/or assistant involved with your pet’s procedure and also documented at regular intervals. By keeping a record of your pet’s vitals trends are quickly noted and can be acted on before they become a problem. At the end of the procedure your pet is removed from inhalant anesthesia and begins the recovery process. A staff member continues to monitor your pet as they wake up removing their ET tube, continuing to check their vital signs, reflexes, and alertness. Monitoring tapers off in intensity as their mobility and awareness improves until they are able to comfortably go home.
Post Anesthetic Care Matters
Before you take your pet home one of our staff members will review your pet’s post-anesthetic care needs. You will get a printed document with this information as well. Not every anesthetic procedure requires a follow-up visit but if yours does we will let you know and you can schedule when you pick up your pet. Each day we have a doctor available for phone consultation until 9 PM. If your pet had a procedure and you have questions you can call our doctor for guidance. We will also follow up with a phone call the next day to check on your pet and answer any new questions you have.