CHAH Updates

Interview with Anesthesia - What you should know before your pet's surgery.

Questions to ask before choosing a Veterinary Hospital for your pet’s surgery

Surgery can be a major event in any pet or human life and it should be taken very seriously. Below are some of the questions that the Veterinarians at Central Houston Animal Hospital recommend considering before choosing a hospital to perform a surgical procedure on your pet.

Will a veterinarian perform a comprehensive exam prior to anesthesia on the day of surgery?

At Central Houston Animal Hospital, we will perform an exam of your pet before surgery to check for fever, heart and lung problems, general health, and any other signs of illness or concerns before surgery.  This exam allows us to check the health of your pet, tailor our anesthetic plan, and address other issues (retained baby teeth, skin disease, heart problems, etc.) accordingly.

What other tests are performed before my pet has surgery?

At Central Houston Animal Hospital, we provide pre-anesthetic blood tests including a CBC (Complete Blood Count), Electrolyte profile and Biochemical Profile.  We perform these blood tests in house and have the results in minutes.  The CBC allows us to check the red and white blood cell counts and shows conditions such as anemia, infection, and low platelet count, etc.  The Biochemical Profile check the function of the liver, kidney, pancreas, and other minerals and electrolytes.  These blood tests can help us detect problems before there are obvious signs of disease in your pet.  We require these blood tests in all animals undergoing an a surgical procedure.

Will my pet have an intravenous catheter and fluids during surgery?

An intravenous (IV) catheter and fluids during all surgeries is beneficial and strongly recommended for many reasons.  The sterile catheter is placed in a blood veins in the leg before general anesthesia.  This catheter provides immediate access to the blood stream in the rare event that emergency medications are needed.  The intravenous fluids work to keept the patient hydrated and also help support blood pressure and processing of anesthetic medications.  We require and IV catheter and surgical fluids in all pets undergoing surgery.  We strongly recommend surgical fluids for all pets.

What drugs or methods of anesthesia will be used on my pet?

The Veterinarians at Central Houston Animal Hospital tailor our anesthetic drugs to the individual patient.  We do not use ‘cookie cutter’ protocols but have a variety of anesthetic agents available to suit the patient and the procedure.  We also intubate every surgical patient with an endotracheal tube at the start of surgery to provide oxygen and protect and maintain the airway.  Anesthetic gas mixed in oxygen is delivered through this time to fine tune the depth of anesthesia.  We can also breathe for the patient using this tube and machine if/when necessary.  The endotracheal tube also prevents aspiration of any fluids from the esophagus into the lungs.  We feel it is inappropriate NOT to intubate a patient under anesthesia for several of these safety reasons.  We us pre-anesthetic medications to relax and calm pets before anesthesia, these medications also provide pain relief before the surgery begins.  Sedatives also help us decrease the amount of anesthetic needed for general anesthesia.

How is my pet monitored during anesthesia?

We feel strongly that anesthetic monitoring is critical and therefore several vital parameters are checked constantly throughout the procedure and through recovery.  Your pet is not left alone in a cage; we are with them through the entire anesthetic process.  With thorough monitoring of your pet we are quickly alerted of any problems or changes and can make adjustments accordingly.  Central Houston Animal Hospital is fully equipped with modern machines to measure blood pressure, ECG, heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen content of tissues, and body temperature.  For every surgery there is a least one trained staff member present with your pet and monitoring these parameters constantly from the beginning of anesthesia until after your pet is recovered and breathing well following the procedure.  We keep an anesthetic record with all the vital parameters recorded every 5 minutes and drug amounts and fluid rates tracked for each patient.

What types of surgical care or standards are offered?

Every surgery and dental procedure at Central Houston Animal Hospital is performed by a licensed Veterinarian.  We value continuing education and take advanced training several times a year to sharpen our skills and knowledge.  We do not consider any surgery ‘routine’;  even though we perform several surgeries each week we know that each pet may only have one surgery in a lifetime and we take each one seriously.  We keep a variety of surgical equipment and also offer electro cautery, Class IV cold laser surgery, and Class IV therapeutic laser to aid in healing post-operatively.   Anesthesia also causes pets to lose body heat.  Cold surgery tables and hospital settings are uncomfortable!  Lower body temperature also decreases blood pressure which can lead to problems during and after surgery.  For these reasons, our veterinary clinic has invested in surgery table  heating apparatus’ These are not heating pads which can burn pets – this equipment has a specific temperature setting with safety shut off features if the temperature rises above the set level.  Much more comfortable for our pet patients!

What sterility measures are taken to prevent infection?

All of our surgeries are performed in a closed off dedicated operating room.  Our doctors wear a cap, mask and sterile surgical gown for each surgery, just like a human doctor! We use a newly sterilized surgical pack for each surgery patient.

What about pain management?

At Central Houston Animal Hospital we are serious about pain management for every surgical patient.  We use pain medications before and after surgery and we have access to a variety of other pain management tools. Most notably, our Class IV therapeutic laser which has been shown to speed healing and decrease inflammation. We are able to do CRI (Constant Rate Infusions) of pain medication for particularly painful surgeries as well.

What about after surgery (post-operative care)?

We closely monitor all of our pets after the surgical procedure is complete.  They are directly supervised by a veterinary technician until they have awakened from anesthesia and then front and center in our main treatment area until they leave us to go home.  A post-surgery recheck and suture removal are included free of charge for surgery patients.  We also trim the nails of every pet under anesthesia.

When choosing a veterinarian for your pet’s surgery, no matter how ‘routine’ you feel the surgery to be; we encourage you to ask these questions.  Here at Central Houston Animal Hospital our team strives to provide a high standard of care with surgery and anesthesia.  If you have questions or concerns about your pet and surgery/anesthesia please address these with your veterinarian.

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