What You Should Know Before Your Dog Goes Under General Anesthesia

Everyone worries when their dog has any type of surgery, even if it’s as routine as a spay, neuter or teeth cleaning. Just like with humans, vets put our pups under general anesthesia in order to relax their muscles and prevent them from experiencing pain during the procedure.

While giving dogs anesthesia is commonplace in veterinary hospitals, there are still some things that pet parents should know in order to help avoid complications. So while administering the medication should be “left to the professionals,” it’s important for us to be proactive in our pets’ health – after all, we’re they’re biggest advocates!

Anesthesia dosing is based on breed, age, weight, body mass, health, and more, so it’s important that your vet evaluates your dog and comes up with a specific plan just for him or her. Below, read about some common risk factors and how you and your vet can work to avoid them.

How Anesthesia Can Affect Different Breeds

To say that different sizes of dogs need different amounts of medication is pointing out the obvious. But as it turns out, differences in their DNA have a huge impact on how their bodies react to anesthesia. According to Dr. Karen Becker in a Healthy Pets article by Mercola, the following characteristics put dogs at higher risk for complications:

Brachycephalic Dogs: Because of their short, squished snouts, these types of dogs (which include Pugs, Frenchies, and Boxers) are at higher risk for airway obstruction. According to Dr. Becker, the breathing tubes given to them while under anesthesia should not be removed until they are fully awake in order to help decrease this risk.

Sighthounds: Breeds that include Greyhounds, Afghan Hounds, and Salukis metabolize medications differently because of their natural lack of body fat, says Dr. Becker. Because of this, they typically need smaller doses than other breeds. The vet adds that sighthounds in particular should also be tested for heart problems prior to the procedure.

Herding Breeds: Including Collies, Aussies, and Shelties, herding breeds have a predisposition to ABCB1, a gene “that allows certain drugs to accumulate in the brain – including some anesthesia agents,” explains the article. This means that these dogs are more susceptible to being over-sedated and having respiratory depression, so they must be watched carefully.

Toy Breeds: It’s not surprising that pocket-sized pooches don’t typically need as much medication as their larger counterparts, so their weight needs to be very accurate when calculating dosage. What’s more, it’s vital for them to stay warm before, during, and after the procedure, since their body temperatures tend to be lower.

Giant Breeds: Huge dogs, like Great Danes, don’t necessarily need a huge dose of medication, according to Dr. Becker. This is because they’re lean, so their body mass needs to be taken into consideration – not just their weight. She adds that large dogs tend to age faster, another important factor when determining anesthesia amounts.

How Health Issues Can Increase Risks

It should be no surprise that dogs with certain health issues may react differently to anesthesia, and certain diseases seem to have more of an affect than others.

Obesity (Particularly In Brachycephlic Dogs): While these dogs are already predisposed to breathing problems, overweight or obese brachycephlic pups are even more at risk for complications. For their health in the vet office – and in life – make sure that they (and any dog, for that matter!) maintain a healthy weight.

Heart ProblemsSince heart issues can have an affect on anesthesia risks, Dr. Becker suggests consulting with a veterinary cardiologist before your pet “goes under.” Dogs prone to heart disease (cardiomyopathy) include Boxers, Cocker Spaniels, Great Danes, and Irish Wolfhounds, according to the article.

Von Willebrand Disease In Dobermans: Since Dobies are prone to this disease, which affects blood clotting, Dr. Becker advises they be evaluated before they’re given medication or scheduled for any type of surgery.

You may not be able to accompany your dog to the operating table, but a little knowledge on his or her breed (or combination of!) can help you take better precautions before any type of surgery or procedure. The best thing you can do is ask the right questions, and most of all, work with a vet that you know and trust. With careful monitoring and preparation, most of these risks can be greatly reduced.

(h/t: Healthy Pets by Mercola)

Tags: anesthesia, general anesthesia, health, vet, veterinarian