Preparing Your Pet to Undergo Anesthesia

How Long Should My Dog or Cat Fast Before Anesthesia?

Try to keep to your pet’s normal routine and feeding schedule as much as possible before they undergo anesthesia; this will help to minimize stress and disruption, and will enable your dog or cat to return more quickly to normal life upon recovery. Generally, it takes about 6-8 hours for food to be fully digested, so only remove your pet’s food dish after dinner on the night before the procedure. Do not feed them any breakfast the following day—however, you can generally still use a small amount of food to ensure they take any required medication. Most pets can have free access to water the night before and the morning of a procedure.


How Can I Help Prepare My Pet for Anesthesia?

There is always risk involved when a person or animal has to undergo anesthesia. Be proactive in communicating with your vet leading up to any procedure that involves anesthesia; let them know about any medications your pet is taking and confirm whether or not you need to adjust the dosage. Also make sure that your vet has a dedicated technician on hand to monitor your pet and ensure that they are safe and comfortable while undergoing anesthesia. For more on how to prepare your pet for anesthesia, read our related blog post.


What Are the Side Effects of Anesthesia?

Dogs and cats sometimes act differently after undergoing anesthesia, but these effects vary greatly and usually only last for a day or so. Oftentimes, they are the result of medication given to the animal as part of the procedure to treat anxiety or to eliminate pain. Some dogs may whine or vocalize after undergoing anesthesia to express minor discomfort or if they are just feeling slightly off or abnormal; cats may become unusually shy or not groom normally. Seek advice from your vet if the unusual behavior persists for more than a couple of days.


What Can I Do to Help My Dog or Cat Recover from Anesthesia?

The recovery process is different for every animal, but usually doesn’t last more than a day or two. When your pet first returns home, try feeding them a smaller portion of food than normal and wait to see how their recovery progresses. During this period, try to keep the animal isolated or supervise interactions with other pets or children in the house who may accidentally disrupt their recovery.