Anesthetics


"I think most vets use ketamine-valium for teeth cleaning, which usually has minor after-effects -- China had a bad reaction to that one, though, so she can't have it again. The 2 newer anesthetic agents -- isoflurane and propofol (sp?) -- have almost NO side effects (you would barely know the dog even had surgery afterwards), but they are more expensive. So I think for that reason many vets don't use them for routine procedures. But it is better for the dog, so I insist on the use of these when my dog has surgery) (letter on Toller-L, 10-3-03).


"..putting a dog under anesthesia is never without worry... Thanks to improved drugs and technology, anesthesia-related mortality rates have dropped. But in a study of 2,500 dogs... 12 percent of them had complications... and 0.43 percent died...

"While some cases might warrant using injectibles only, veterinarians can have difficulty gauging the depth of anesthesia... as well as maintaining a constant level of unconsciousness. As a result, many vets follow the injectable with an inhalation anesthetic.

"Most vets consider two of the newer gases, isoflurane and sevoflurane equally safe... each acts quickly, but sevoflurane costs more. The newest inhalant, desflurane, acts and clears from the animal's system more quickly, but a specialized vaporizer adds to the cost.

"Some practices still use halophane, an older gas [which] affects the liver more than the newer inhalants...

"..some vets "mask down" their patients -- that is, give them inhalant anesthesia only. This has drawbacks, too. "It's very stressful on the dog, and there is a long period of time when the patient is not in your control"..

Questions to Ask

1. What form(s) of anesthesia will you use?

2. "Ask if the person monitoring is a certified vet. technician...

3. "Do you routinely give intravenous fluids during anesthesia? An intravenous catheter helps during surgery because it provides quick access to the blood stream in case of an emergency. It also hydrates dogs that have fasted before the procedure.

4. "Do you know about this breed's difficulty with certain drugs? Sighthound[s] have a lesser ability to metabolize barbiturates... Boxers have also demonstrated a reaction to acepromazine.. will collapse.. if you don't intervene, they could die.

"Practices vary from vet to vet, so don't just assume that something's happening" (Flaim, Denise. "Get the Facts On Anesthesia." Dog Fancy, Feb. 2004, 50-55).


"..you want to indicate [to your vet] that it means a lot to you and that you want your dog to have plenty of analgesics before, during, and after surgery...

"Years ago, vets. were taught it was best to ignore an animal's pain...

"Find the clinics in your area that treat pain and get second opinions. Ask if the clinic follows the new American Animal Hospital Association standards that support pain management and encourage veterinarians to make a conscious assessment of pain...

"We now know that during general anesthesia the brain is asleep, but the rest of the body isn't.. if you don't have analggesics on board, pain messages get sent to the spinal cord, which reacts.. When patients wake up, they're much more inclined to be extremely painful if they haven't had analgesics [before and] during surgery...

"A painful experience lasting several days can change the way an animal experiences touch and pain for the rest of the animal's life...

"The reason for fasting is to be sure the dog has an empty stomach when undergoing anesthesia so that the dog will not regurgitate...

"..sight hounds and brachycephalic breeds -- those with flat, pushed-in noses -- can present a challenge...

"..sight hounds don't have enough fat to hold large amounts of anesthetic drugs. Sight hounds also metabolize anesthetics more slowly. As a result, these breeds occasionally have a prolonged recovery from anesthesia...

"..newer drugs (e.g., Propofol)..are.. most desirable to use for.. sighthounds.

"Brachycephalics, such as Pugs and English Bulldogs, tend to make noise when they breath. "You need to use drugs that knock them out quickly, so you can secure the airway... You also need anesthetics to wear off rapidly and completely, so that the dog is able to compensate for its malformed airways once the tube is removed...

"Dogs are almost always sedated prior to anesthesia. One reason is to make them calmer; another is to give them pain meds beforehand to limit pain after surgery...

"..an injection will get dogs asleep, but gas is used to keep them asleep" (DeGioia, Phyllis. "Advances in Anesthesia." Your Dog, Jan. 2004: 3-6).


Colby Glass, MLIS