Anesthesia and Your Pet

May 30, 2019

Anesthesia and Your Pet

Just like in human medicine, if your pet needs surgery, she will be placed under anesthesia. The thought of your precious companion being anesthetized may make you nervous, so we want to explain the entire procedure. From a thorough preoperative evaluation to the safest drugs and monitoring equipment, Dallas Veterinary Surgical Center has your pet’s safety in mind from start to finish.

Preoperative history and physical examination

We will begin with questions about your pet’s medical history, recent illnesses, and behavior to identify information that may affect anesthesia or the surgical procedure. Our veterinarians will perform a thorough physical exam to assess every body system, paying particular attention to your pet’s heart and lungs. Since anesthesia medications slow breathing and heart rate, we want to ensure these systems are strong enough to handle the change.

Preoperative testing

We will draw a small blood sample to evaluate your pet’s overall health. A physical exam is important, but blood testing gives specific details about individual organ function and other information, including:

  • Whether your pet has sufficient red blood cells to carry oxygen to her organs
  • Whether infection is present
  • Whether your pet has enough platelets to stop bleeding
  • Whether the liver and kidneys are functioning correctly

The liver breaks down the anesthetic drugs, and the kidneys eliminate them from the body, so normal function of both is critical.

IV catheter and fluids

If preoperative testing does not reveal any concerns, we will proceed by placing a catheter into one of your pet’s veins. An IV catheter gives us direct access to her bloodstream for administration of anesthetic and routine medications, as well as emergency medications if complications should arise. We will also administer IV fluids throughout the procedure to maintain hydration and blood pressure.

Preanesthetic medications

We will typically give your pet a sedative to help her relax and to relieve any anxiety. We may also give her medication before surgery to prevent pain. Administering sedation and analgesics before surgery allows us to use less medication to induce anesthesia. After receiving preanesthetic medications, your pet will relax while they take effect.

Anesthetic induction

Once your pet is relaxed, we will administer anesthetic medications. To your pet, this simply feels like going to sleep. After she is under anesthesia, we will place a tube into her airway to administer oxygen and anesthetic gas, which will keep her anesthetized throughout the surgery. While she is under anesthesia, she will be unaware of what is happening and feel no pain, just like in human surgical procedures.


Our skilled veterinary team will closely monitor your pet throughout the procedure to ensure she’s handling anesthesia without complication. Constant monitoring includes:

  • An ECG to evaluate your pet’s heart rate and rhythm
  • Respiratory monitoring to ensure she is breathing normally and taking in enough oxygen
  • Blood pressure measurement to ensure blood flow to her internal organs is adequate
  • Taking her temperature regularly, since anesthesia can slow metabolism


When the procedure is finished, we will turn off the anesthetic gas, and your pet will begin to wake up. We will remove her breathing tube once she can swallow. As she regains consciousness, we will continue monitoring to ensure she recovers smoothly and comfortably. The total recovery time will depend on the type of anesthesia medications used and how long she was anesthetized. Once she can stand and walk unassisted, recovery is complete.

The time your pet will remain in the hospital depends on the surgical procedure and how well she does after anesthesia. Our goal is to return your pet to you safe and healthy, with as little pain as possible.

If you have any questions about your pet’s anesthesia, call our hospital.