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Standard of Care for Anesthesia and Pain Control

The following information is to provide general information about the current standard of care for safe anesthesia and pain control for your pet, as well as the level of care you should expect for your pet.

Anesthesia has become better and safer. The use of more sophisticated monitoring, improved physiologic support, improved techniques, and the availability and selection of safer anesthetic drugs are indeed responsible for much of the improvement noted. We are now able to provide successful anesthetic management for patients who in prior years would have been more likely to have had significant complications. Unfortunately, there are no foolproof anesthetic drugs.

"There are no safe anesthetic agents; there are no safe anesthetic procedures; there are only safe anesthetists." Robert Smith

At Compassionate Care Veterinary Hospital your veterinarian and the well-trained technicians work together as your pet's anesthesia and pain management team. They have an extensive knowledge of anesthesia, pain prevention and pain control topics. They are responsible for your pet's comfort and well-being.

Safe anesthesia begins with a careful preanesthetic evaluation of your pet. This evaluation is essential for the selection of an anesthetic and pain management regimen. Each patient is evaluated and has a tailored anesthetic protocol designed for them. There are many things to consider when choosing an anesthetic protocol, including:

  • Species
  • Breed
  • Age
  • Body condition score (overall conditioning and body fat)
  • Temperament
  • Any current systemic disease
  • Previous and current medications and supplements
  • Current physical examination
  • Preanesthesia laboratory workup

A member of your pet's anesthesia team will be with your pet throughout its procedure and until recovery is complete. They will continuously evaluate your pet through anesthesia because the awareness of the ever-changing condition of the anesthetized patient is essential for safe and effective anesthesia and analgesia to be accomplished.

A few questions to ask before your pet's anesthesia:

  1. Is your pet treated gently and patiently on arrival?
  2. Is the hospital clean?
  3. Was proper laboratory screening tests performed before anesthesia?
  4. Will there be a trained, licensed veterinary technician whose only job is to be dedicated to monitoring and caring for your pet during the pre-anesthetic medication administration, during anesthesia, and until your pet is fully recovered from anesthesia after the procedure?
  5. Are medications being given before anesthesia to decrease your young pet's anxiety, relax it before surgery, and decrease the amount of anesthesia needed?
  6. Will an intravenous (IV) catheter be placed before anesthesia?
    • If no IV catheter is placed, how is rapid access to the blood supply going to happen to administer medications and supportive care in case of an emergency (when seconds count)? Or if there are any complications or unexpected reactions to anesthesia, medications or procedure?
  7. Are IV fluids administered for blood pressure and circulatory support during surgery and until your pet is fully recovered?
  8. Are your pet's blood oxygen levels being monitored during anesthesia?
  9. Are your pet's respiratory carbon dioxide levels being monitored during anesthesia?
  10. Is blood pressure being monitored during anesthesia?
  11. What pain medication is given and when?
    • Are pain medications being used before, during and after surgery or a painful?
    • Gas anesthesia causes relaxation and stops movement, but it does not stop nerves from sensing pain!
    • Is your pet going home on pain medication?
    • Just because animals do not outwardly demonstrate easily recognized signs of pain does not mean that they do not hurt. Research has dispelled the myth that dogs and cats do not feel pain the way that people do. If a procedure is painful for us, it is painful for them!
  12. Are any questions or concerns you have about the procedure or the hospital stay being answered satisfactorily?

At Compassionate Care Veterinary Hospital all patients undergoing planned anesthesia and procedures have individualized medical plans developed for their unique needs during their hospital stay.

Our care for your pet includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • All pets are treated with compassion to minimize their stress.
  • Our hospital is a well maintained, state-of-the-art, patient-centered medical facility.
  • Your pet's veterinarian and the health care team assigned to your pet are personally responsible for your pet's comfort and well-being.
  • Every pet has a careful evaluation before any medications are administered.
  • Sedatives, medications for pain, and anti-anxiety medications are used before anesthesia and procedures.
  • If your pet needs medication for pain prevention and control, we incorporate an effective and safe pain management strategy. We understand that the timing of pain medication administration is crucial!
  • Pain medications and local nerve blocks are used before the potential painful procedure has started to minimize our patients' discomfort.
  • All anesthesia and surgical patients have IV catheters placed before general anesthesia.
  • They all receive IV fluids before the induction of anesthesia, during anesthesia and until they are fully recovered from anesthesia.
  • A licensed, trained veterinary technician will be with your pet throughout anesthesia, the procedure and recovery.
  • Your pet's blood pressure, blood oxygen and respiratory carbon dioxide levels are only some of the vital information monitored during any anesthetic procedure.
  • We will strive to answer all your questions and provide detailed discharge instructions for your pet's care after anesthesia and the procedure.
  • Pain medication is dispensed for any procedure causing discomfort to maintain your pet's comfort at home.

Our advanced anesthetic methods and advanced pain management program help achieve our goal of your pet's comfort and well-being during its hospitalization for anesthesia and any procedures.

As you can see, modern anesthesia involves the proper monitoring equipment, supplies for patient support and most importantly, personnel with the necessary knowledge and expertise. Unfortunately, this costs money. Some hospitals elect to cut corners by not committing enough trained personnel to be involved during patient's anesthesia and procedures, not utilizing intravenous fluids, not intubating patients to protect airways and provide adequate oxygen, not keeping patients warm, skimping on pain medications or not providing proper patient monitoring to decrease the cost of procedures. But the decreased comfort and safety for your pet, in addition to the increased rate and seriousness of complications, is a steep price for your pet to pay.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact our hospital for additional information.