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Methods of Minimizing Anesthesia-related risks:

When it comes to the performance of many procedures in veterinary medicine - spays, neuters, dentals, tumor removals, etc. - anesthesia is a necessary part of the event.  Of course, anesthesia always carries risks, even in the case of the young and healthiest undergoing routine elective procedures.  At Damonte Ranch Animal Hospital, we recognize the concerns of clients when it comes to anesthesia worries, and were are committed to doing everything possible to have the safest possible anesthesia experiences for our patients.  We accomplish this goal using the following strategies:

1.  Every patient will first have a complete and comprehensive medical history gathered so that all possible current medical issues are understood as well as any past medical ones that would be pertinent to their upcoming anesthesia event. 

2.  Next, a thorough physical exam is performed.  This is a very important tool to uncovering possible health ailments. 

3.  Ideally for all patients (an absolute requirement for our senior pets), labwork is performed in order to assess the pet's organ function status prior to going under the affects of anesthetic drugs.  These tests are extremely important for helping ascertain whether or not certain anesthetic protocols should be tolerated by our patients.  Sometimes, if labwork results are not normal, we might recommend post-poning an anesthetic procedure so that more investigations can be performed first as to why the labwork abnormalities are present.  Othertimes, we might change an anesthetic protocol and then proceed along with the scheduled surgical / dental procedure.  The bottom line ... at Damonte Ranch Animal Hospital, we believe that it is always better to know ideally as many facts about your pet as possible before an anesthesia is performed on a patient.  These pre-emptive steps help ensure a smooth anesthetic event from start to finish.

4.  At our hospital, we request that our patients are fasted prior to any anesthetic procedure... No food after 8pm the night before, and no water once they are dropped off at the hospital that morning.  This helps to minimize the risk of a pet vomiting up their stomach contents and then aspirating them inadvertently down into their lungs when undergoing anesthesia.  Aspiration pneumonia can be a serious / life-threatening complication if it occurs.  Ensuring that your pet's stomach is empty is one of the absolute best things you can do to help us be sure this complication does not happen the day of your pet's procedure.   

5.  Prior to any pet going under anesthesia, pre-medication cocktails are administered to ensure that your pet is neither anxious nor painful throughout the entire procedure from the point of anesthetic induction, through recovery.  These drugs are very important to help smooth the entire experience from start to finish.  Although standard combo's are typically used, every patient is different and each protocol is tailored and adjusted when necessary to fully meet each individuals pain management's needs.  

6.  Also prior to the start of anesthesia, all patients receive an IV catheter and are on fluids during the procedure.  Of course, this ensures vein access at all times in case of any unexpected event / emergency.  But on a much more basic level, it simply allows an avenue for the patient to receive fluids while under anesthesia, thereby helping to maintain their vitals (heart rate, blood pressure, temperature) in the ideal place.

7.  Once under anesthesia, it is important to always know exactly how the patient is doing.  At our hospital, licensed veterinary technicians monitor every patient throughout their procedure from start to finish no matter how short or routine the procedure might be.  Anesthetic surgical logs are maintained where the patient's vital signs - temperature, heart rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure and oftentimes EKG - are recorded starting even before your pet is under anesthesia.  Keeping a close eye on these parameters helps to head off any potential problem ideally before it can ever have a chance to start. 

8.  At the end of all anesthetic procedures at our hospital, patients are closely monitored.  They are kept in the treatment recovery room where they can be closely watched.  They stay on their IV fluids and if needed, special warming beds can be placed on them in their kennel to keep them comfortable.  If additional doses of pain medications are needed, they are administered as well. 


“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” -Anatole France

There is no greater feeling than to know you earned an animal's trust. ~ © Alison Stormwolf