Anaesthetics are routinely used in veterinary practice for a variety of reasons, some of which include:

  • To perform surgery
  • To minimise stress associated with handling for a specific procedure
  • As an emergency treatment (eg. an animal suffering fits)
  • To ensure the safety of every small friend and to ensure the health and safety of veterinary and nursing staff

Is it safe?
All anaesthesia carries some risk, but thanks to modern technology these risks are minimised. We at Small Friends Veterinary Hospital reduce risk associated with anaesthesia by:

  1. Performing a thorough pre-anaesthetic examination,
  2. Pre-anaesthetic blood testing,
  3. Use of safe and appropriate anaesthetic drugs, and
  4. Close monitoring during and after anaesthesia.

1. Pre-anaesthetic Examination
During a pre-anaesthetic examination your small friend will be checked for any external signs of illness. This includes checking gums, heart rate and rhythm, pulse rate, respiratory rate, lung sounds, temperature and body weight.

2. Pre-anaesthetic Blood Testing
Blood tests allow us to detect disease that may not yet be causing outwardly noticeable symptoms. The blood test performed prior to anaesthesia checks the status of your small friend’s kidneys and liver, and measures blood glucose and protein. It is important to know the condition of the liver and kidneys as these are the organs placed under the most stress during anaesthesia.

3. Use of safe and appropriate anaesthetic drugs
At Small Friends Veterinary Hospital we routinely use a combination of two drugs – propofol and isoflurane – to anaesthetise cats and dogs. At present these two drugs are the safest anaesthetic agents available for veterinary use. These anaesthetics are also commonly used in human hospitals. Propofol and isoflurane are both rapidly metabolised and very short acting. This means the depth of anaesthesia can be controlled with greater accuracy, and recovery from anaesthesia is much more rapid compared to other drugs. The dose of anaesthetic used is accurately determined by your small friend’s age, weight, physical condition and if applicable, disease status.

4. Routine Anaesthetic Monitoring
The veterinary and nursing staff closely observes every anaesthetic undertaken at Small Friends Veterinary Hospital. The monitoring equipment and techniques used during anaesthesia include:

  • Pulse Oximeter – accurately measures the pulse rate and rhythm, and the amount of oxygen being carried in your small friend’s blood.
  • Apnoea Alert – measures your small friend’s respiratory rate by signalling and timing every breath.
  • Manual Observations – regular manual checks of the depth of your small friend’s anaesthetic.
  • Record Keeping – each and every minute of your small friend’s anaesthetic is monitored, recorded and assessed.

What does the anaesthetic actually do?
General anaesthetic produces an unconscious state. When “under” anaesthetic your small friend will be unaware of what is happening, pain-free, immobile, and afterwards free from any memory of the period of time during anaesthesia.

Why does my small friend need to have an empty stomach?
It is very important that animals have an empty stomach when they are to be anaesthetised. If your small friend has a full stomach it increases the chances of vomiting during anaesthesia. The danger with vomiting either during the induction of, or recovery from anaesthesia is that the vomit may be inhaled and lead to a type of pneumonia called “aspiration pneumonia”. Aspiration pneumonia can cause dangerous swelling, inflammation, and/or infection in the lungs.
We advise that small friends abstain from solid food for 12 hours prior to surgery. Fluids may be consumed during this time.

Will my small friend require pain relief after surgery?
If your small friend is anaesthetised for a surgical procedure it is likely that they will receive an injection for pain relief. This injection is a long lasting pain killer and in most cases will be all the pain relief your small friend will require for at least 24 hours. The injection is given just prior to surgery. By doing this we can be assured that the medication has had time to take effect before your small friend wakes from surgery.

What do I need to do when we bring our small friend home after the anaesthetic?
At your discharge appointment Dr Matt will discuss specific requirements for your small friend’s surgery. There is however, some general advice that applies to all anaesthetics.

  • For the evening following an anaesthetic we advise you are home with your small friend.
  • After coming home your small friend will be sleepy and likely to want to rest.
  • Some small friends may vomit after anaesthesia. Please call Small Friends Veterinary Hospital on 6262 2233 if this occurs.
  • Water should be freely available.
  • Your small friend may be fed a small meal after arriving home. They will be hungry after having no food since the night before but please only feed them their normal meal size over two servings two hours apart.

Siblings Maya and Tyr resting together in hospital after their anaesthetic for desexing surgery