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.

Easy Tactics For Your Pet’s Dental Health

A pug shows her teeth for the camera in this comical pose.

A pug shows her teeth for the camera in this comical pose.

Did you know that the health benefits associated with your pet’s dental hygiene are actually within reach? It’s true! Your pet’s dental health can not only be maintained through regular exams, cleanings, and at-home care, but the link to his or her overall wellness is undeniable.

However, of all the areas that are known to support your pet’s health, dental care is often overlooked. It doesn’t have to be this way; your patience and diligence can make a world of difference to your pet’s dental health, and Animal Family Veterinary Care Center is here to help. Continue…

Finding the Right Dental Care for Your Pet

 

Dear Doctor Rob:

Why is there so much difference from clinic to clinic when it comes to dental procedures?  I want to do the best thing for my pet but frankly, I am confused.  Could you please help me understand what is involved in a dental procedure?

Confused Pet Owner

Dear confused:

Making comparisons about any procedure at a veterinary clinic (or for that matter at a dentist office, with a plumber, mechanic, lawyer, etc.) can be a bit tricky.   Are apples being compared with apples?  Any other way is just not fair.

A dental cleaning means different things to different people and there is a huge difference between removing tartar from the crown of the tooth and a complete oral exam with cleaning, polishing, charting and oral surgery if needed.

As much as we promote dental home care to prevent disease, the fact is that most of what we do is not a simple cleaning.  Most patients have dental disease that needs to be addressed, safely, under anesthesia, while on IV fluids, with monitoring.  Sometimes this also includes dental x-rays, deeper pocket cleaning and even oral surgery.

So questions need to be asked.  Do these estimates or procedures include:

Does your veterinarian provide pre-surgical bloodwork to evaluate liver and kidney function?  That is the only way to tailor anesthesia to your pet’s health requirements.   Will there be intravenous fluids to support blood pressure and help blood flow to the kidneys and other organs?  Will your pet be under general anesthesia with intubation to provide a secure source of oxygen and to protect the airway from aspiration of water and bacteria ? Does the veterinarian have trained staff monitoring your pet while he or she  under anesthesia? Are pain medications provided before the procedure? Do they use local nerve blocks to protect your pet from pain during the procedure?  This would be similar to the lidocaine you receive at your dentist.  Does the practice provide pain medications if required after the procedure?  Do they scale above and below the gumline or just clean what you can see?  What type of scaling do they use?  Is it hand scaling or ultrasonic ? Do they make certain to polish your pet’s teeth after scaling?  If not,  they are simply providing a new surface for tartar to attach to the teeth.  Do they probe the gumline for pockets and then chart their findings?  If they find a potential problem do they have the ability to do digital dental x-rays?  Do they have the tools and training to perform safe surgical extractions, if needed?  That includes closure of the surgery (extraction) sites.  Does your pet receive antibiotics before and after the procedure if  needed?  Will there be detailed home care recommendations and recheck exams?  Are extractions recommended appropriately or only when teeth are just about to fall out on their own?   Are root planing and subgingival curettage offered?  Is there a licensed veterinary technician assisting the veterinarian?  Has the veterinarian and staff received continuing education from a board certified veterinary dentist?

If the answers to all of these questions are the same, then fair statements can be made.    We are proud of the services we offer and the job that we do.  There are no standards mandated in veterinary medicine that every clinic must abide by, therefore no two clinics are the same. This is part of the reason we follow American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) standards and are AAHA certified

I hope this has helped make things a little less confusing for you.  If you still have questions, feel free to call the clinic or visit our website at www.animalfamilyveterinarycare.com