Frequently Asked Questions » General Anaesthetic and Surgery

General Anaesthetic and Surgery

What is Anaesthesia?

Anaesthesia is given to an animal to produce insensibility to pain. It is used to temporarily block sensation and causes unconsciousness which allows patients to undergo surgery without feeling pain or distress.

What happens when my pet has an anaesthetic?

On the morning of the operation a nurse will ask you to read and sign a consent form to confirm that you wish to go ahead with the procedure. You will be asked a few questions such as when did your pet last eat and are they on any medications. We will also ask you to provide us with a contact number so that we can contact you if needed. Once the consent form is completed a nurse will admit your pet.

Shortly after this, a premed will be given. This is a combination of a pain relief and a sedative. The premed will help your animal to feel more relaxed and reduces the amount of anaesthetic we need to use. We administer the drug into the muscle and it will take approximately 40 minutes to be fully effective.

When we are ready to begin the procedure we routinely clip a small amount of fur on the leg and place a catheter into the vein. The catheter is used to inject the induction drug into. We work out the correct amount of the drug according to the animal's weight, which we then administer slowly into the catheter. The drug acts quickly and patients are usually asleep within a minute. If your pet requires fluids or other intravenous treatments, then this can easily be given through the catheter.

A tube is then passed into the trachea which provides oxygen and an anaesthetic gas, called 'isoflurane'. This is used to keep the patient asleep throughout the procedure. They are connected to an anaesthetic machine so we can accurately measure the amount being given.

We then prepare the animal for surgery by shaving away some fur from the desired area. This area is then prepped with surgical scrub and the animal is taken into theatre where the op is carried out under sterile conditions.

What do I have to do?

If your pet is coming into the practice for a general anaesthetic we ask that you fast them from 7pm the night before. This ensures that they won't vomit during the anaesthetic. Water can be available at all times.

If your animal is taking medication, it is best to speak to the vet to find out when it is best to give it to them.

We ask that you bring your animal in between 8.30am and 9.30am on the morning of the procedure, unless other arrangements are made.

Patients often go home the same day as surgery as recovery is usually very good. When patients are discharged, nurses will go through post op instructions with you.

Can older animals have an anaesthetic

Yes even older animals can have an anaesthetic. In these cases we may suggest running a blood screen or urine sample first, to check for any abnormalities which may pose more of a risk to your pet. We often have to give anaesthetics to older animals as problems develop as they age, such as dental disease, lumps etc.

It is important to understand that any anaesthetic can carry a risk to your animal; however we have a number of ways to keep this risk low, such as:

When the animal is recovering, a nurse will monitor them until they are completely round from the anaesthetic. A vet will also keep check on them to ensure they are happy with their recovery and will provide more pain relief if necessary.