Is It Safe for My Pet to Undergo Anesthesia?

Just like with humans, a highly personal approach is needed to develop an anesthesia treatment plan for pets and animals. A veterinary professional will consider the animal’s age, medical history, medications, and the results of the animal’s physical examination before deciding whether to administer anesthesia. In addition to these considerations, an animal healthcare professional must also take into account the species and breed of the animal. If you have questions about the type of anesthetics being administered to your pet, consult with your veterinary healthcare professional prior to your pet’s procedure.


Can Older Animals Undergo Anesthesia?

In today’s era, animal nutrition and care have greatly improved, and it is not unusual for pets to live longer and healthier lives. Thankfully, there is no cutoff age for an animal to undergo anesthesia. Dogs as old as 15-20 years have undergone anesthesia with no complications. In administering anesthesia, age is important because older animals (6 years and older) may have concurrent diseases such as cardiac (heart), kidney, or liver disease. They are often on multiple medications which may affect the drug combination and dose of anesthetics used during the procedure. When treating older animals, a healthcare professional may perform more extensive testing, such as blood work testing, chest x-rays, or abdominal ultrasound to ensure that the animal can safely undergo anesthesia. Although older pets may be less tolerant of blood pressure changes under anesthesia, closely monitoring and carefully adjusting the dose of anesthetic drugs can allow for a safe and successful procedure without adverse effects.


What Information Should I Tell the Vet Before My Pet’s Procedure?

As a pet owner, you should disclose a full list of medications that your animal is taking, including prescription medicines, herbs and natural remedies, vitamin supplements, and pain medications such as aspirin. Depending on what medications your pet is taking, the veterinarian may have you administer your pet’s medications on a different schedule or may ask you to cease administering the medication a few days before the procedure.


What Should I Do for My Pet Pre-Anesthesia?

  • Consult with your veterinarian to answer any questions you may have regarding anesthesia, your pet’s procedure, and potential side effects that your pet may experience.
  • Disclose all of your pet’s medications, including prescription medicines, herbs and natural remedies, vitamin supplements, and pain medications such as aspirin, with your veterinarian.
  • Follow your veterinarian’s instructions regarding the administration and/or adjustment of your pet’s medications a few days prior to the procedure, if applicable.
  • Make sure to monitor your pet’s behavior and to report any odd or unusual behavior to your veterinarian.
  • Make sure you follow your veterinarian’s specific pre-procedure instructions before your pet undergoes anesthesia.
  • Make sure your pet is well hydrated before the procedure. In most cases, your pet may continue drinking water one hour prior to undergoing anesthesia.


What Should I Expect Post-Anesthesia?

  • If your animal is older, you can expect them to remain drowsy and fatigued post-anesthesia for a longer period of time than younger animals.
  • Your pet may experience pain or discomfort after the procedure. Ask your veterinarian about pain management solutions that are right for your animal, which may include pain medication.