Make Surgery More Safe and Less Scary

Maine Coon kitten

Oh wow! Anesthesia can be so scary! How do you know your pet is going to be ok? Will they wake up? How does a pet owner make certain their pet is receiving the safest surgical care possible?

What you should look for:

  • Take a tour of the facility. Check out the surgical suites. Do they have up to date anesthetic machines, monitoring and warming equipment?
  • Do they stress the importance of pre-surgical bloodwork? Pre-anesthetic testing is what determines if your pet has health problems that would make anesthesia unsafe or if they require special anesthetic drug protocols.
  • What type of anesthesia is used? There is a huge difference between cheap injectable first generation anesthetics and the newer generation of drugs and inhalants that can be specifically tailored to an individual animal’s needs.
  • What kind of staff do they employ? Are the surgical staff highly trained Veterinary Technicians or poorly paid lay persons who learn their trade on the job and with your pet? The best equipment in the world is no good if there is no one who understands what the readings mean.
  • Do they have complete monitoring systems in place? This should include heart rate, blood pressure, carbon dioxide levels, oxygen levels, respiration, body temperature.
  • Do they employ intravenous catheters, IV fluids and endotracheal tubes needed to control blood pressure, oxygen and anesthetic delivery? Or do they use an injectable anesthetic and hope for the best?
  • Do they keep their staff up to date through continuing education? Technology is improving and changing all the time. Make sure the clinic you use keeps their staff current and well trained.
  • Is it clean? Does the clinic smell clean? Believe it or not there are clinics that will use the same surgical pack on more than one animal. Are all the instruments, including those used in dentistry sterilized after each procedure?
  • Is there a good pain management protocol in place? Or will your pet lay in a kennel with no relief once surgery is complete.

What you can do to make anesthesia safer for your pet:

  • Make certain that your veterinarian is aware of all medications, supplements and over the counter drugs your pet is receiving. Then follow their instructions about how and what to administer before anesthesia.
  • Don’t feed your pet if your veterinarian tells you not to. Ignoring this can cause vomiting and aspiration pneumonia. Conversely, if you have an exotic pet, feed them if you are instructed to do so. They have different requirements than dogs and cats.
  • Tell your veterinarian if your pet has ever had any reaction to any type of medication. If your pet has a seizure disorder or is diabetic, please make sure to share this information. This is especially important if you are new to the practice.
  • Don’t let your pet become overweight. It makes anesthesia much less safe.
  • Make sure your pet stays healthy by staying up to date on all routine health care.
  • Don’t wait too long to spay or neuter. Large, overweight females that have been through several heat cycles are every veterinarians least favorite surgical patient. Everything is bigger, with more surrounding fat, more friable, harder to ligate and more prone to bleeding.
  • If you’re not sure, ask questions. We don’t mind.

The Truth About Cats

 mufasa

Cats. Kot, Katt, Gato, Got, Kissa, Felis catus. They domesticated themselves, of course, 3500 years ago but have been around our periphery since prehistoric times. Whether you love them or hate them, cats maintain a kind of tolerant interdependence with mankind. They are neither master nor slave and though they may love us it is only on their own terms.

Our domestic relationship with cats evolved because it was mutually beneficial to us both. They were attracted to the rats and mice near human grain stores and we enjoyed the rodent control cats provided. They slowly became accustomed enough to us to grudgingly move inside our homes. Today while there are some fancier breeds of cats out there by and large they remain unchanged.

How amazing are cats? Check it out.

  • Cats are a true carnivore. That means that unlike humans or dogs they cannot survive on a vegetarian diet. They require active vitamin A, arachidonic acid and taurine all of which are derived from animal tissues. If cats could talk they would tell us they want meat baby meat.

  • Cats don’t have a fixed clavicle which means they can fit through any opening large enough for their head.

  • Cats are especially agile. Their highly flexible vertebrae allow them to rotate their spine up to 180 degrees. This and their righting reflex is what allows them to always land on their feet.

  • Cats have the same number of vertebrae as us until you add their tail which is comprised of 30 more.

  • Cats can jump! As in up to 5 – 6 times their own height.

  • If you are a cat lover or fancier you are an Ailurophile.

  • Speaking of Ailurophiles, the ancient Egyptians loved their cats so much that they dressed them in jewels. If a cat died, the grieving family would shave their eyebrows. Mourning continued until all the hair grew back.  Cats were also often mummified and placed in tombs alongside nobility.

  • Cats are smart too. They meow for our benefit alone. They use different vocalizations to communicate with each other. Cats have a surprisingly large vocabulary too, containing of up to 100 varied sounds.

  • Cats hearing is much better than humans or dogs. They also have superior night vision but people can see a wider variety of colors. At least we win at something.

  • A group of cats is called a clowder or a pounce. The first is probably just a variant on the word clutter.

  • A cat’s brain is more similar to a human’s than a dog.

  • Cat’s purr when they are happy but also when they are frightened or in pain. One researcher found that purring may actually promote healing and aid in pain relief.

  • A Bobcat can purr but not a lion.

  • According to legend, Noah was alarmed by the number of mice running around the ark and prayed for guidance. God told him to rub the lion’s nose. This produced a sneeze from the lion which contained two cats. Later legends would say that knowing he came from the lion is what made the cat so vain.

  • Cats have 30 adult teeth, humans have 32 and dogs have 42.

  • One unaltered queen can produce 100 or more kittens in her lifespan. Her kittens and their kittens can produce up to 400,000 kittens. Cats are wonderful but if they reproduce without control we can’t provide homes for them all. Please spay and neuter your cats.

Amazing Facts about Animal Anesthesia!!

e-collar dog

Anesthesia scares lots of people but in fact is safe and has a long and very cool history.  Check it out!

  • The truth is we have been trying to find ways to ease pain for a really long time but we have not always been very good at it.

  • Anesthesia for animals didn’t happen as fast as it did for people because it was thought that putting an animal under was painful. So they just restrained them instead. Bad idea.

  • Opium was a popular drug in early anesthesia because of its numbing properties. It has many properties that make it useful in medicine and is still employed today.

  •  During World War II many Jews escaped from the Nazis through the use of rabbit blood soaked rags with a cocaine top dressing. The dogs noses were numbed which dulled their sense of smell and their brains were addled enough to make them lose focus. Pretty smart and harmless to the dogs.

  • Spinal blocks were discovered by accident. In 1885 a doctor studying neurological problems accidently injected cocaine into a dog’s spine. The great news came when he saw that the neural block reversed on its own over time. Ask any mother who had an epidural during delivery how great a discovery this was.

  • The really worst idea for surgical analgesia was a sock to the jaw which made the patient unconscious and a hopefully very rapid surgery. Yes they actually did this

  • The man who popularized inhalant anesthesia was unable to patent his method and died penniless and bitter

  • In animals we need to look at age, size and weight, Sex (some boys need more), species (VERY important), Physical health and condition, pre surgical drugs that have been administered and the type of procedure to be performed. An overweight animal has a much greater risk of complications. Yet another reason not to feed table scraps.

  • Anesthesia free procedures were performed up into the 20th century. Ether was around but was not widely used. Think about how very painful surgery that must have been. Something to remember when someone tries to sell you on the idea of anesthesia free procedures. Dentals are surgical procedures.

  • In 1733, Rev. Stephan Hales developed invasive blood pressure measurements by introducing glass pipes into the femoral arteries of horses.

  • Anesthesia also produces amnesia and that’s always a good thing when you’re having surgery.

  • One of the hardest things we do after surgery is to determine if an animal is in pain or dysphoric. Dysphoria is a state of unease which causes vocalization and restlessness.  It can be caused by the surgical drugs we use. Unlike people animals can’t tell us how they are feeling so we monitor our surgical patients closely to minimize any discomfort.

  • It is possible to have an aware anesthesia where you can’t move but  it’s not at all common.  Thank goodness!

  • This is for the redheads out there. You really don’t need more anesthesia. That’s a myth.