Sedation and Anesthesia are Beneficial and Safe

Woody Dudley, DVM

Why is sedation a good thing?

Using Sedation requires less employees, less wrestling, less stress, and provides faster service, better job satisfaction, and better quality testing and treatment. A positive experience at the hospital for the pet on anxiety and sedative medication becomes a positive experience next time. A negative experience from untreated stress and anxiety becomes a negative experience the next time the pet visits the hospital.

The simplest approach to patients that are nervous about Veterinary visits is called the Chill Protocol. This would involve giving either Gabapentin or Trazadone the night before and the morning of a visit to the Animal Hospital. When Melatonin, a supplement that can be purchased over the counter, is included with Gabapentin or Trazadone the night before and morning of a hospital visit even better sedation occurs. The usual dosage of melatonin for dogs depends on size. Dogs less than ten pounds should generally take 1 mg. Dogs ten to 25 pounds usually take 1.5 mg. For dogs 26 to 100 pounds, 3 mg is recommended. Dogs over 100 pounds may take 3 to 6 mg. You should not administer these dosages more than three times per day. Melatonin comes in tablet, capsule, powder, and liquid forms that can be given with or without food. It usually starts working within ten to 15 minutes after a dog takes it. Effects last for about eight hours if dogs take the correct dosage. For this reason, pet parents often give it to their dogs immediately before bed to provide a full night of sleep.

Why does my pet need anesthesia?

Pets are often not cooperative patients. The Doctors and Nurses want to provide the best care with minimum stress to the patient. Sedation and anesthesia are excellent for eliminating the stress, anxiety, and pain the patient is experiencing. Sedation and anesthesia keep the patient perfectly still so quality imaging such as x-rays and ultrasound can be done in the positions needed for diagnosis without wrestling and uncooperative behavior. Dentistry, surgery, diagnostic procedures, and treatment can be done without movement. Your Vet will always evaluate the benefit to the patient versus the risk prior to determining if anesthesia is wise. Anesthesia is a good thing when needed.

Is anesthesia risky for Dentistry and Procedures?

Fortunately, anesthesia has become very safe in recent years. The American Animal Hospital Association guidelines for anesthesia have reduced the risk of complications dramatically. The anesthetics that are used in Veterinary Medicine today are the same as those used in humans. Pre-Anesthetic Screening, Monitoring, pre-prepared emergency medication charts, local anesthetics, low doses of multiple anesthetics rather than higher doses of individual anesthetics, anesthesia medications that can immediately be reversed with other medications, supplemental heat, intravenous fluids, ultrasound pre, and post-anesthetic evaluations, nurses that constantly observe the patient from the beginning of anesthesia until the patient is sitting up after anesthesia, and better equipment, education, and facilities have all resulted in safe anesthesia for our healthy patients, even for patients with medical problems, and multiple co-morbidities that are stable. The risk of complication is 1 in 2000 in dogs and 1 in 1800 for cats that are healthy (with ASA rating of 1 and 2).

Monitoring: Anesthetic patients are monitored every 5 minutes while receiving anesthetic gases with Electrocardiogram, Blood Pressure, Pulse Oximeter (measures oxygen in the blood), Respiratory Rate, Core Body Temperature, Pulse, and Heart Rate. By checking these parameters every 5 minutes in a written template, negative trends can be detected rapidly, allowing the Doctor and Nurse to reduce anesthesia before problems occur. For extra protection, we follow the AAHA policy of continuing the monitoring of our patients even after the anesthesia is finished.

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