Aug 11 2017

Anesthetic Safety


By Dr. Kim Anderka and Dr. Christina Douthwaite

I want to get my dog neutered but am scared about putting him under anesthetic. Is there anything I can do to ease my mind and ensure he gets through this safely? What care will he need after his surgery?

Being apprehensive about anesthetic and surgery on a loved one is quite normal and it is good to look into the requirements and risks before proceeding. There are several things that can be done to minimize the risk of general anesthesia for him. An examination should be performed prior to surgery to ensure there are no current medical issues that may increase his anesthetic risk. A healthy pre-operative exam is the first step to ensuring he is a suitable candidate for surgery. Certain underlying conditions may not be detectable on exam alone and therefore we recommend considering blood work prior to surgery. The medications used for anesthesia and surgery, rely on peak kidney and liver function to process and excrete them. Blood work can detect small changes in these organs that may not yet be detectable on examination. In addition, a healthy cardiovascular system is necessary to handle the anesthetic. Pre-anesthetic blood testing measures liver and kidney function, blood cell counts, blood sugar and protein levels to ensure that he is a good candidate for surgery. If abnormalities are found, the procedure may be postponed to allow for treatment of an underlying disease. We recommend intravenous fluids during surgery to ensure support of his blood pressure and kidney function and to assist with flushing medication out of the body. This should allow for a faster recovery.

Weighing the risks of the procedure against the benefit is also important when making a decision. The benefits of spaying and neutering your pet include, reduced risk of mammary tumours, prostate disease, undesirable behaviors (such as aggression) and prevention of uterine, ovarian and testicular cancer. Most importantly, spaying and neutering your pet prevents adding to the problem of pet overpopulation.

The care you will need to provide your dog after his operation will be lots of TLC. He will have some medication that you will need to give to keep him comfortable and likely an Elizabethan collar to ensure he doesn’t damage his incision. He will need to be kept quiet and his activity restricted for 5-7 days. You will need to keep his incision area dry and clean and if stitches are present, he will need them removed approximately 10 days after his procedure.

Spaying or neutering your pet is considered a major operation and requires general anesthesia. With today’s modern anesthetics and monitoring equipment, the risk of a complication is very low. We hope this helps put your mind at ease and we wish your dog all the best with his upcoming surgery.


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