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General Anaesthetic

We anaesthetize animals every day. Modern day anaesthesia is very safe and in the case of our beloved pets, the risk of dying under general anaesthesia is estimated to be less than 1 in every 1000. The advances in anaesthesia have allowed us to perform successful surgeries and procedures on even the most critically ill patients.

At Acorn Veterinary Hospital, we take general anaesthesia very seriously and are proud of our safety record. Unfortunately, there is no “ideal anaesthetic agent” but we use drugs that we are comfortable and experienced with and that we also feel are most appropriate to your individual pet’s needs.

Before any anaesthetic drug is given, we give your dog a full physical examination and discuss with you about their health. The more information we have, the more we can ensure a safer anaesthetic. Sometimes, pets may have undetected problems, which may be identified by blood and urine tests.

A pre-anaesthetic blood test (and urine test) will enable us to determine both the general health and also the functioning of the internal organs. Many anaesthetic drugs affect the blood flow to the major organs and are also inactivated and removed by the liver and kidneys. This will allow us firstly to decide if your dog is healthy enough to undergo a general anaesthetic and subsequently, which drugs are most suitable for use. We strongly recommend blood and urine tests in all senior animals (over 8 years old) and any we suspect may not be in full health.

Acorn Veterinary Hospital uses advanced monitoring equipment during any anaesthetic to allow us to closely observe vital signs (such as blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation and respiratory rate). Our staff are trained to determine the depth of anaesthesia by evaluating the animal’s reflexes, muscle tone and the response of vital signs to surgical stimulation. Our close monitoring during anaesthesia allows us early recognition and correction of any problems.

Anaesthetized animals are unable to regulate their body temperature. Following the induction of anaesthesia, the core body temperature will rapidly drop risking hypothermia – which is associated with higher mortality rates and surgical complications (such as infection). At Acorn, we use a system of forced-air warming to prevent hypothermia.

General anaesthesia generally will decrease the heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate. An endotracheal tube (ET tube) is a soft plastic tube that is placed into your pet’s windpipe to allow us to administer oxygen (and inhalational drugs if necessary) and to assist and control the breathing if necessary. An ET tube also prevents any stomach contents or foreign materials being inhaled into the airways or lungs.

Intravenous (IV) catheters allow us to have immediate access to the blood stream during an anaesthetic. This allows us to administer any fluids or drugs rapidly during and after surgery. IV fluids are an excellent way to make an anaesthetic safer. Firstly, administering fluids helps to maintain a good blood pressure which ensures good blood flow around the body to the vital organs. IV fluids also assist in the rapid clearance of certain drugs and anaesthetic agents from the body. IV fluids also allow us to correct any dehydration before the surgery and replace any fluid loss during the surgery such from bleeding. Ideally, IV fluids should be used for all animals during an anaesthetic and at Acorn, we particularly recommend their use in sick and senior animals.

We understand that anaesthesia on your loved dog is a cause for serious concern to you and we take every anaesthetic extremely seriously.