Pre-Anaesthetic Information Your pet is about to undergo or has been recommended to have a procedure involving a general anaesthetic or sedation. Understandably you may feel nervous or anxious. This leaflet aims to explain to you what is involved and to reassure you.
Sedation: For this procedure we will administer a combination of drugs to your pet which will reduce their level of consciousness, and to restrict their ability to move. Your pet may still be able to feel painful sensations depending on the depth of sedation used. Oxygen will be administered via a face mask. Sedation is used for minor procedures e.g. claw clipping, diagnostic investigations including x-ray & ultrasound.
General anaesthetic: We administer a different combination of drugs to make them fully unconscious, relaxed and unable to feel pain. We then place a breathing tube into their windpipe (trachea) to administer an anaesthetic gas which will keep them asleep. This procedure is used for any painful procedure e.g. surgery.
We avoid giving anaesthetics or sedatives unless it is clinically necessary. There is always a risk whenever a pet is given a general anaesthetic or sedation. There are also a number of different factors that may make the procedure higher risk e.g. age, pre-existing conditions. We endeavour to make these procedures as safe as possible by using modern techniques to maintain safety, and ensuring our team is fully qualified and trained.
What happens on the day
Admission by a trained nurse
On admission, one of our veterinary nurses will confirm that your pet has been starved for the recommended time. They will check with you that there are no obvious signs of ill health that may require investigation prior to an anaesthetic. You will be asked to sign a consent form. It is vital that you leave us at least one phone number on which you can be contacted at any time, either to update you on your pet’s progress or to discuss any problem that may arise. Routine procedures such as neutering are postponed if there is any doubt as to the patient’s health on the day.
Pre-anaesthetic blood testing
Pre-anaesthetic blood testing can give vital information that could change the veterinary surgeon’s view on how safe anaesthesia is for your pet. It is advisable for all pets over 7 years old undergoing sedation or anaesthesia and is strongly recommended for all dogs
and cats over 10 years of age. These tests check for liver damage, kidney disease and
anaemia to name a few. Any of these problems can add to the risk of the sedation or
anaesthetic. If problems are detected they will be discussed with you and our
anaesthetic plan will be adapted accordingly (e.g. a different combination of drugs or
anaesthesia being postponed until stable).
Safe and effective premedication
Your pet will be given a premedication injection (unless they are to be sedated), which
will relax them, provide pain relief, reduce the dose of anaesthetic needed and ensure a
gentle and smooth induction. On occasion we may ask you to wait with your pet until the
pre-med has taken effect.
An intravenous (IV) drip is beneficial in maintaining blood flow to vital organs, correcting
dehydration and flushing anaesthetic drugs from the body in patients who may find this
more difficult due to certain medical conditions. Fluids are recommended for patients
that are undergoing lengthy anaesthesia, or that have pre-existing conditions that may
have been highlighted by the pre-anaesthetic blood test.
Balanced, safe and effective anaesthesia
To induce anaesthesia, we must give an injection straight into the vein. To do this we will
clip up the fur, normally on their front leg, so we can place a catheter. Once a catheter is
safely placed, we will have continuous access to the vein to administer the injection and
give medications or IV Fluids in the event any complications arising during surgery.
Anaesthesia is maintained once your pet is safely ‘asleep’, using a mixture of oxygen
and anaesthetic gas via an endotracheal tube passed down the pet’s windpipe. The
anaesthetic gas is similar to the ones used in human anaesthetics. An anaesthetic gas
machine allows control of the depth of anaesthesia, for extended periods if needed. The
machines are NHS standard and are regularly serviced and inspected. A trained
veterinary nurse will monitor the anaesthetic throughout the whole procedure.
Once the procedure is complete your pet is moved to their warm kennel, where they can
complete their recovery quietly. The time taken to regain consciousness varies between
patients. Once your pet is fully awake, they will be offered food and water.
Proven and appropriate pain relief
Post-surgical pain can affect the quality of your pet’s recovery and postoperative
healing. We include a strong painkiller in the pre-med and in addition include a nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory pain killing injection once your pet is anaesthetised. Further
pain relief with various other drugs may be given if your pet is undergoing a particularly
painful procedure, such as repair of a broken bone. In cases where ongoing
postoperative pain is anticipated your pet will be sent home with painkillers. All of our
Veterinary Surgeons & Veterinary Nurses are trained to administer local anaesthetics for
a variety of different procedures, a bit like when you go to the dentist for a filling. Local
anaesthetics numb the area they are given to and are used in some of our procedures.
Safe and effective sedation
Sedation may be recommended if your pet is having a very minor surgical procedure or
an investigation that requires it to be still but not fully anaesthetised. We use a variety of
different sedative drugs depending on the health of the patient. The most commonly
used combination has a reversal agent that is given at the end of the procedure and is
quickly absorbed and enables your pet to make a speedy return to full consciousness.
Oxygen is always administered via a face mask.
Lungworm Treatment (Dogs only)
It is important that your dog has received medication to protect them against lungworm recently (Milbemax or Advocate). Lungworm is a parasitic worm that can cause the blood to stop clotting. This can be critical to an animal during surgery. If you are unsure if your pet is protected please speak to a member of our team. If your dog has not had the correct treatment, a blood test can be performed on the day of the operation but this will incur additional charges.
On the day checklist
o Your pet is not allowed any food from 8pm the night before their procedure,
unless advised otherwise (water is fine to be left down)
o Take your dog out for a short walk before their appointment so they are able to
go to the toilet
o Keep cats in overnight to make sure they have no access to food or can run off
when they see the basket!
o Arrive on time for their admit consultation between 09:00-09:30, unless told
o If they are on any medication please write down what this is and when they last
o Have a phone number that you can leave with us in case we need to contact you
o Please feel free to ask any questions you may have during their admit