At SCVS, our anaesthesia service is managed by Specialists in Veterinary Anaesthesia & Analgesia (Pain Management), supported by Anaesthesia Interns and highly skilled Veterinary Nurses. The priority of our team is to ensure the safety and comfort of your pet before, during and after procedures whilst they are with us. Depending on the procedure to be performed, your pet may be sedated or anaesthetised. Whilst you may not meet the anaesthetist responsible for your pet, be assured that we remain in constant contact with sedated and anaesthetised animals during the entire procedure, right through until the animal is awake and responsive. For this reason we are not always available to meet owners.
General anaesthesia is often something that worries owners, particularly since many have experienced it themselves. At SCVS we use modern drugs and techniques to ensure that every animal in our care remains as calm as possible throughout its stay. A thorough patient assessment will be carried out and an anaesthetic plan will be prepared for your pet.
A cannula will be placed in a vein (usually in one of the legs), so that we can administer drugs and fluids during the anaesthetic. You may notice that some other parts of your pet’s body have been clipped – possibly the back, tail, ears or more than one leg. These areas will have been prepared for placement of secondary intravenous cannulae, epidural injections, or sites for placement of a cannula in an artery so that we can accurately monitor blood pressure in certain animals. This is perfectly normal and is for the safety and benefit of the patient.
Pain management is paramount and we often combine a variety of drugs, including local anaesthesia to make sure every patient is as comfortable as possible.
Our sophisticated anaesthetic equipment is identical to that used in human hospitals, and we monitor a range of parameters such as heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels and body temperature.
Once the procedure is over, dedicated ward or intensive care nurses will closely monitor your pet. If your pet requires critical care then anaesthetists are often involved in this too.
Frequently asked questions:
If I am concerned, can I meet an anaesthetist to discuss my pet’s wellbeing? Anaesthetists work very much ‘behind the scenes’ and owners rarely get to meet us. Your clinician will usually discuss anaesthetic considerations with you, as our anaesthetists spend the majority of their time patient-side, working closely with your pet, ensuring the well-being of all patients requiring sedation and anaesthesia. However, if you have any concerns you would wish to discuss directly with one of the anaesthetists, one of our team will be more than happy to come and chat with you.
Will my pet be painful after surgery? The anaesthetists work hard to ensure that any potential or existing pain your pet may experience is managed appropriately. Analgesia is of paramount importance to promote a rapid recovery and to get your pet back home with you. Each patient will have an individualised analgesic plan depending on any pre-existing pain and the type of surgery planned. Postoperatively, pain management will continue and your pet will be assessed frequently to ensure comfort. A patient will only be discharged from the practice once we are satisfied that any remaining pain is mild and can be adequately managed at home with painkillers given by the owner.
What are the risks of general anaesthesia? The risk of a pet dying under anaesthesia is undoubtedly one of the major concerns that owners have when leaving their animal in the hands of veterinary professionals. Whilst there are thousands of blogs and chat rooms discussing which anaesthetics are safe or unsafe for a variety of animal species and breeds, evidence underlying these remarks is usually lacking. When an anaesthetic goes wrong in some way, this often leads to an assumption that a drug or a technique must be to blame, which is usually not the case. There are many misconceptions when it comes to pedigree animals, especially about which sedative and anaesthetic drugs can or cannot be used in particular breeds. Our staff are highly trained and experienced in anaesthesia and our aim is to minimise any risk to your pet. However, unfortunately, with any procedure, sedation or anaesthetic, there is always a degree of risk, but this risk is very small. There are things we can do to make anaesthesia safer – by tailoring an anaesthetic plan to your pet’s circumstances, age and condition we can reduce this risk. Additionally, because every anaesthetic at SCVS is carried out under the supervision of a Specialist veterinary anaesthetist, we are able to detect any problems and deal with them quickly. Very sick animals are understandably at greater risk of suffering a complication and, because of this, will have more members of the practice team working to make them better. Our multidisciplinary team work closely with one another so that your pet can benefit from all areas of expertise that we are able to offer. If you have concerns regarding anaesthesia, one of our anaesthetists will usually be able to discuss this risk with you.
Can I pay extra for a ‘safer’ anaesthetic? As the saying goes ‘there are no safe anaesthetics, only safe anaesthetists’! At SCVS we would never choose an inappropriate anaesthetic plan because it is cheaper. Your pet will always have an individualised anaesthetic or sedation plan, taking into account any pre-existing conditions, pain, age and the procedure to be performed. So you cannot pay extra for a ‘safer anaesthetic’ as your pet will always have the very best care and attention from our highly skilled team.