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Anesthesia has a well documented place in both human and animal medicine, and it's especially critical as a way to calm and treat animals who are frightened and in pain.
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The anesthetics that are used in veterinary medicine today are much safer than ones used in the past, and their results are much more predictable. Gas anesthetics can be quickly eliminated by simply removing the mask. Injectable anesthetics, meanwhile, all have a reversal agent that can be quickly administered if there are any adverse effects, such as a drop in the dog's blood pressure. This additional safety is very important, since veterinarians use anesthetics more than regular medical doctors. That's because many animals become extremely terrified or agitated while at the vet's. Therefore anesthesia is often used in procedures like X-rays, joint examinations and laparoscopic procedures.
Anesthetics in veterinary practice can be injected locally around the nerves to work on a specific site, or they can be injected into the muscle to work throughout the body. They also can be inhaled as a gas or injected into the bloodstream. The key to successful anesthesia is an experienced practitioner, which is why it's important to check the credentials of any veterinary surgeon who will be working on your dog.
When your pet is scheduled to undergo general anesthesia, you should first discuss any fears or concerns you have with your veterinarian at least a week or two before the surgery. Blood work should be performed to identify any hidden biochemical concerns. Also be sure to tell your veterinarian if you have noticed any of the following symptoms in your dog, since they can affect how anesthesia is selected and applied: lethargy, inability to exercise, weight loss, bleeding or changes in body functions. Also, if the dog has ever reacted badly to anesthesia or other medications before, it's critical that you let the vet know.
Your dog should not be fed for at least 12 hours prior to sedation with a general anesthetic. If the dog is allowed to eat, then it could vomit up and inhale stomach contents during the procedure, which is a problem for obvious reasons. Also, the animal will not experience as much nausea during recovery if it was not fed prior to the procedure.
If your dog is well enough, groom and comb it and allow it to relieve itself before driving to the veterinary hospital. Be sure to be calm and soothing when you do this. Dogs are highly sensitive to their owner's emotions and will pick up on any anxiety you're displaying.
Once your dog has had the procedure and is past the initial recovery phase, if possible pick it up from the veterinarian and bring it home to recuperate. Many veterinary hospitals don't have the staff to watch the dog overnight. Plus, your dog will recover much more readily if it's at home with familiar odors and surroundings. In most cases, you can safely watch over your recovering pet at home, as long as it's kept comfortable and you have your vet's emergency number of the number of an emergency hospital readily available.
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