Anesthesia: Anytime your puppy is required to have an operation of any kind, a teeth cleaning, certain types of x-rays, or an elective procedure such as spaying or neutering, anesthesia will be performed by the Veterinarian. Please do not take this lightly. Ask the right questions and make the right decision for your puppy's well-being and health safety. With humans, the anesthesia field is highly specialized and the protocols are highly regulated by the medical profession. With humans, a highly trained and highly educated anesthesiologist is required in addition to your surgeon. With dogs, there are little to no regulations, and the person holding the scalpel is also administering the anesthesia to your dog. But, it is still a rather complicated and delicate area of veterinary medicine. There are a number of different kinds of anesthesia that can be administered, various methods and procedures of administering the anesthesia, preliminary testing that can be performed, and additional monitoring of vital signs that the Veterinarian can do in order to avoid accidents. Because yes, there are accidents that can greatly compromise the health of your dog, some of which can be permanent, or result in loss of life due to the anesthesia. Just like humans, dogs respond differently to the anesthetics and may have sensitivities and/or reactions to the type of anesthesia. Some dogs may not be able to metabolize (break down) the anesthesia as quickly as other dogs which can be related to the fat content in your dog. This doesn't necessarily mean the anesthesia/procedure cannot be performed on your dog, it just means stronger precautions must be taken. For example, it is good practice to exercise extra caution with (a) elderly dogs, or (b) dogs that have never been under any type of anesthesia, or (c) dogs which have known sensitivities or have had reactions to anesthesia in the past. Extra precautionary measures that should be taken are as follows:
- Prior to the anesthesia/procedure, request a full panel, comprehensive blood analysis (i.e., BUN, ALT, AP, creatinine, bilirubin, cholesterol, glucose, total blood proteins, hematocrit, a differential, and a total white blood cell count). This may reveal issues such as anemia, infection, low blood sugar, inadequate blood clotting ability, or conditions with the kidney or liver that may not be conducive to certain types of anesthesia. You might also want to have the doctor perform an EKG/ECG to detect heart problems prior to the anesthesia. If all these tests come back normal, there is a decreased risk with general anesthesia, but still some risk. A urine analysis may also prove useful to reveal other issues which may need to be resolved prior to surgery, especially in dogs who have no prior experience with anesthesia or anesthetic agents.
- There are various kinds of anesthetic agents: some of which are more aggressive and expedient for the Vet, and some that require more effort and may be more costly to administer. There are types that are administered by injection, some intravenously (IV), some that use an inhalant by mask or tube, some that combine IV and an inhalant, some that wear off over several hours, and some that use one injection to go under and a second injection to bring out. Common practice will use an oral sedative prior to the general anesthesia. Talk to your Vet and tell him/her that you want to exercise extreme care because of the reasons a, b, or c that I described above. Tell them you want to use an anesthetic procedure which is less aggressive and more conducive to patients that are potentially sensitive or reactive to anesthesia. Isoflurane gas has become the anesthetic of choice in veterinary medicine, and it is often used in pregnant animals and in animals with heart problems. It is rapidly eliminated from the body with little or no side effects.
- Request your Vet to do additional or extended monitoring of the dog's vital signs. This would include constant monitoring of heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, oxygen intake, and probably most importantly but often neglected is to monitor blood oxygen content using an oximeter. It's one thing to know how much oxygen is being administered, but quite a different thing to know how much of that oxygen is actually making it into the blood. Low oxygen in the blood can result in complications and adverse reactions to the anesthetic agents being used.
- Ideally, your Vet will use only the amount of anesthetic agent that is necessary to perform the surgical procedure, and this must be monitored throughout the procedure. The Vet should give just enough of the anesthetic agent(s) to maintain a pain-free and relaxed patient during the procedure. This amount is different for every dog. A more painful procedure, such as abdominal surgery, spaying, or orthopedic surgery usually requires more anesthetic agents than procedures such as teeth cleaning or the removal of a superficial tumor. Sometimes, a combination or two or more anesthetics, given in different ways, works better for the Vet and effective for the dog than a single agent given alone. However, the more agents used to accomplish the anesthesia may increase the risk in older dogs or dogs with no prior history of general anesthesia. The combination of agents must be carefully selected based on the pre-op analysis results. You should ask your Vet and it is highly recommended that a special assistant be present during the procedure who will be non-distracted, and is generally assigned to watch the doggie patient closely, help monitor the vitals and the amount of anesthetic agents being administered by the DVM.
- Talk to your Vet about the number of years of experience they have in anesthesiology, and whether they only use standard methods, or have fine-tuned and developed their anesthesiology over the years so that they have the least impact on the health of their doggie patients. A younger doctor fresh out of Vet school will not have this experience. An older doctor who has kept themselves up to date with current practices and the latest anesthetic agents is a better choice.
- Also make sure and remember to withhold all food and water from the dog a minimum of 12 hours prior to the surgery. This will prevent the dog from throwing up the contents during surgery and inhaling it into the lungs. It also reduces post-surgery nausea. It is better to pick your pet up near the close of business rather than let them stay in the clinic overnight. They will relax and recover better in the familiar surroundings of home, but should not be bothered by younger children during recovery. Dogs are often chilled and exhibit shaking or shivering when they come out of the anesthesia, but will appreciate and feel comforted by being wrapped or cuddled in a heated towel, fresh from the dryer. Things like this will help lift the "spirit" of your dog in post-op recovery.
We recommend that you have your Golden's teeth cleaned regularly by a Veterinarian which requires anesthesia. Please take a look at our article on, "Oral Hygiene For Your Golden Retriever" We hope this article has provided you with helpful information to equip you to make your own well-informed decisions in caring for and raising your Golden Retriever. Please don't take everything we say as the gospel truth. Keep in mind that we are not veterinarians, or medical professionals, nor do we have any specialized training to qualify us as professionals in the field of veterinary care. We are professional breeders of the very amazing Golden Retriever. We genuinely love this breed. We thoroughly research our information combined with many years of experience and try to provide the best of what we have learned to both our customers and those who also love the Golden Retriever breed. We've done our own research and have formed our own opinions; we encourage you to do the same. And as always, thank you for considering Emery-n-Denise's Golden PuppiesTM.