Anesthesia and Anesthetic Risk

Anesthesia Safety for Pets

Anesthetic safety is of the utmost importance for our patients. The anesthetic process requires multiple steps:

  • Pre-anesthetic exam and testing
  • Medications at home
  • Pre-anesthetic medications
  • Nausea control
  • IV catheter and IV fluids
  • Anesthetic induction
  • Anesthetic maintenance
  • Monitoring
  • Warming
  • Pain management
  • Anesthetic recovery
  • Board-certified veterinary anesthesiologistTM

Pre-anesthetic exam and testing

Prior to anesthesia, your pet will have a complete physical exam to assess for any detectable medical problems. All pets are required to have pre-anesthetic lab work and, in some cases, additional testing.


Medications at home

In some patients we will recommend that the anesthetic process start with the owner giving oral medications at home prior to anesthesia. We require all dogs to have a pre-anesthetic stomach acid reducer, either famotidine or omeprazole, in order to reduce the potential for esophageal irritation associated with gastroesophageal reflux. Animals that are nervous or aggressive can be given medications in advance to make the anesthetic process less stressful for them.


Pre-anesthetic medications

All patients are given a preanesthetic medication injection on the day of the procedure, typically including a pain medication and a medication that reduces anxiety.


Nausea control

Patients may be given one or more medications to reduce the potential for nausea or vomiting, if these symptoms are anticipated.


IV catheter and IV fluids

Every patient that goes under anesthesia has an IV catheter placed, and is put on IV fluids during the procedure. This allows us to give additional injections and maintain hydration, blood pressure, and appropriate blood flow.


Anesthetic induction

An injectable, short-acting medication is given through the IV catheter to start the anesthetic procedure itself. All dental patients have an endotracheal tube placed in order to provide appropriate breathing and to protect the airways from water and debris resulting from the dental procedure.


Anesthetic maintenance

During anesthetic maintenance, the patient is given oxygen through the endotracheal tube. Mixed with the oxygen is a small amount of anesthetic gas, which is a drug that keeps the patient asleep during the procedure.



One of the most critical aspects of safe anesthesia is appropriate monitoring. During all anesthetic procedures we are continuously monitoring a patient’s oxygenation, pulse rate and strength, carbon dioxide level, ECG (electrical function of the heart), respiration, blood pressure, and temperature.



During anesthesia, all patients are placed on a warming pad and are covered with a warm air blanket, in addition to warming of the IV fluids that are given. After the procedure, the patient is recovered on a pre-warmed blanket or towel.


Pain management

All patients are given pain medication prior to the dental procedure. If more significant pain is anticipated, additional pain medications are used during and after the procedure. In addition, local and regional nerve blocks are used to control pain during and after the procedure. Post-operative pain medications are sent home for all patients that have had a painful procedure.


Anesthetic recovery

During the recovery from anesthesia, a licensed veterinary technician will remain with the patient until the patient is recovered and stable.


Board-certified veterinary anesthesiologistTM

Our office has an arrangement with a board-certified veterinary anesthesiologist, Dr. Martin Kennedy. Dr. Kennedy is available for preanesthetic consultations. For high-risk patients, Dr. Kennedy is able to live-stream the patient’s anesthetic monitoring parameters to virtually monitor the patient’s anesthetic stability and safety. Dr. Kennedy’s services are all performed virtually, and he is not physically present in our office.