Katherine Bryson, RVT
At New Perth Animal Hospital maintaining your pet’s health and well-being is of the utmost importance to us. We strive each day to provide the best veterinary care possible to each pet and we truly treat them as if they were our own. We follow American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) guidelines and procedures during our day to day activities to ensure high standards of care are met. Today I would like to explain how we prepare for anesthesia and surgery on your pet.
When you arrive at New Perth Animal Hospital you will be greeted by our friendly veterinary team. A veterinarian or veterinary technician will admit your pet and go over all procedures and associated fees. You will be educated on pre-surgical blood work and take-home pain medication. These are both optional but are highly recommended.
After your pets are admitted to the hospital they are cared for by trained and qualified staff. A registered veterinary technician cares for your pet from the time they arrive until the time they go home. Our hospital has a unique design which allows your pet to be continuously monitored. Our kennel area is built into our treatment room so pets are never left alone and are always under the watch of a qualified team member.
If you opt for pre-surgical blood work a veterinary technician will collect a blood sample from your pet and perform the analysis on our state of the art in-house laboratory equipment. We highly recommend this for a number of reasons. Though the anesthetics we use are tailored to each pet and each condition, and though they are much safer than medications used in the past, there is still a risk associated with any pet (or human) under-going anesthesia. If a condition is discovered on the blood work, veterinarians can appropriately adjust the anesthetic used or may recommend treatment before having anesthesia or surgery.
Before administering the first anesthetic agent called “pre-med” a veterinarian performs a thorough examination on your pet and evaluates their American Society of Anesthesia (ASA) Physical Status Class. They then select the medications and anesthetics specifically for your pet. This is the final step before anesthesia begins.
There are four steps to anesthesia. Pre-medication is the first step. Pre-med is a combination of medications which relax your pet, provide pain control and stabilize them for the procedure they are having. As mentioned above, this combination of medications is chosen specifically for your pet. A veterinarian or veterinary technician will administer the pre-med and then your animal will be placed in their kennel to relax for approximately 20 minutes. During this time they will be warmed (as the temperature can decrease during surgery) and may have oxygen administered depending on their condition and the surgery they are having.
The second step to anesthesia is the induction. Just prior to induction your pet will be moved from their kennel to a taller table allowing us to prepare them for surgery. A veterinarian or veterinary technician will then place an intravenous catheter into their vein. This catheter allows a direct access to administer life saving medications and also a delivery port for intravenous fluids. Induction moves your pet into a deeper relaxation and sedation. Once your animals has been induced a silicon pipe called an endotracheal tube will be placed down your pets trachea (also known as wind pipe) this keeps your pet’s airway open and allows breathing access in case of emergencies.
This now begins stage three of anesthesia, maintenance. We maintain your pet’s level of anesthesia using an anesthetic machine. This machine attaches to the endotracheal tube and allows the animal to breath oxygen mixed with an anesthetic gas. At this stage they are asleep and unable to see or feel anything that is happening around them. A veterinary technician will then attach intravenous fluids to your pet’s catheter. Every pet, at a minimum, has IV fluids during their surgical procedure. Some pets may require IV fluids for a longer period of time; this will be determined by the veterinarian. These fluids stabilize your pet during surgery, replacing any fluid lost due to the surgery and stabilize blood pressure. They also move the anesthesia through your pet’s body quicker, making the anesthesia safer and allowing them to wake up quicker. While your pet is maintained on the anesthetic gas a veterinary technician will clip hair from the surgery site and will aseptically clean the surgery area of any dirt and debris which could interfere with your pet’s healing.
Your pet is then moved into our surgery suite and is positioned appropriately on the surgery table, all the while being continuously monitored by a registered veterinary technician, ensuring that your pet is breathing and maintaining an appropriate heart rate, temperature and blood pressure. Every patient is monitored by a veterinary Cardell monitor – this continuously gives the veterinarian and veterinary technician an accurate heart rate, breathing rate, temperature, blood pressure and EKG wave. This machine allows us to detect any potential complications early and respond immediately. Once your pet is comfortably positioned, a registered veterinary technician will administer a local anesthetic into the surgery site. This numbs the areas and in combination to pain medication keeps your pet comfortable for a longer period of time. Your pet is now ready to have surgery.
All surgeries are performed by veterinarians licensed by the PEIVMA. Our veterinary surgeons wear caps and masks to protect your pet from any foreign materials such as hair or saliva entering the surgical site. They also wear sterile gowns and gloves that are changed after each individual surgery. All staff members in the surgery room also wear caps and masks and clean surgery scrubs. All instruments and instrument packs are cleaned and sterilized prior to use and new individually wrapped scalpel blades and suture materials are used on each patient. We follow aseptic technique to ensure your pet’s surgery is kept sterile and so they are kept at a minimal risk to infections and complications.
Once your pet’s surgery is completed the inhalant anesthetic is stopped and they enter stage four of anesthesia: recovery. If you have ever had anesthesia yourself this period can be very confusing and discomforting, we take every precaution to make sure your pet wakes up smoothly and comfortably. They are monitored continuously during this period and are never left alone. They keep their breathing tube in place until they are awake enough to swallow and maintain their airway themselves. During this period a technician or assistant will clip your pet’s toenails and clean their ears. A pain medication is administered and your pet and their pain level is then assessed regularly until they go home. Once your pet is awake and comfortable they will be put back into their kennel where they will be monitored by the entire veterinary team until they go home.
Pain medication for routine elective procedures is optional though we highly recommend it for all pets under-going surgery. Pets show pain differently than we do and sometimes it can be hard to tell if they are painful. Your pet’s pain level is monitored throughout their stay at the hospital. If a veterinarian feels that your pet is in pain, then pain medication may not be optional and will be sent home with your pet so they can stay as happy and comfortable as possible.
As you can see, a lot of care is put into every pet under-going anesthesia and having surgery. At New Perth Animal Hospital we abide by the highest standards of care and reach to go above and beyond for every pet that comes into the hospital. We strive to treat every pet as if they were our own and ensure they are given nothing but the best treatment and care. By following the AAHA guidelines we provide top of the line service that ensures the health and safety of your pet. If you have any questions please call our veterinary team at (902) 838-1800.