Mountain Animal Hospital


Precautions to Help Reduce the Risk of Anesthesia


There is always a degree of risk associated with any anesthetic.  Currently, there are very few regulations regarding monitoring under general anesthetic.  The only equipment that is currently required is an apnea alert, an alarm that sounds if a breath has not been taken for a pre-set amount of time.  Before your pet goes under a general anesthetic, it is very important to ask what specifically is being done to decrease the risk and monitor your pet closely during anesthesia.

The following is a brief outline of the steps we take to decrease the anesthetic risk and make anesthetic safer for your pet.

  1. Bloodwork prior to anesthetic and surgery – evaluates organ function and early signs of disease that CANNOT be picked up on a physical examination.
  2. Thorough physical examination on the day of surgery – performed by one of the doctors.
  3. IV fluid therapy before, during and after surgery – helps maintain blood pressure and is an excellent means of delivering pain medication and emergency drugs if necessary.
  4. Isoflurane gas for maintenance anesthesia – one of the safest inhalant anesthetics available.
  5. Thermoregulation – maintaining a normal body temperature allows your pet to metabolize drugs more efficiently.  We use a circulating hot water pad, oat bags and an IV line warmer.  For longer procedures like dentals we also use the Bair Hugger.
  6. Monitoring (done continuously while under anesthetic)
    1. Monitored by a veterinarian during anesthetic induction
    2. Blood pressure (Doppler and Oscillometric)
    3. Heart rate (how fast the heart is beating)
    4. Heart waves (ECG)
    5. Respiration (breathing)
    6. Inspired and exhaled carbon dioxide (how much carbon dioxide is breathed in and out)
    7. Temperature
    8. Oxygen saturation of the blood (how much oxygen is in the blood)

If you have any questions or would like to view our anesthetic monitoring equipment, we would be happy to give you a tour!