Registered Veterinary Technician: Ann (left) and dental assistant: Diane (right) performing a dental cleaning on a patient.
For most, pets are more than just loyal companions—they’re a part of the family. Just like us humans; from time to time pets will have to undergo surgery, and it is completely understandable for clients to feel nervous about putting their pets under anesthesia. Vale Park Animal Hospital’s goal is to educate clients on all of the little details they pay attention to during the surgery: So that they may ease concerns and answer questions as well. The safety and well-being of patients is their top priority!
The trained veterinary technicians and support staff at Vale Park Animal Hospital take several precautionary steps anytime a pet goes under anesthesia. This all begins even before a patient’s surgery is even scheduled: At the preliminary wellness exam. It is an important step to ensure a pet is healthy enough to undergo the surgical procedure, so several things are tested. The heart and lungs must be checked; which is done by examining the gums and skin for healthy color, in addition to listening to their heart with a stethoscope. Taking a blood sample is also required to do crucial tests called pre-anesthetic bloodwork which is performed before each and every surgery performed at Vale Park Animal Hospital to ensure proper organ function.
These precautionary tests often prove invaluable to the surgical team. It gives doctors information on a pet’s kidney values, red blood cell counts, blood sugar levels, and so much more. All of this information gives the team a very accurate representation of a patient’s overall health, and it tells the doctor if they will be well enough to undergo anesthesia. According to the veterinarians at Vale Park Animal Hospital; there have been numerous cases where these tests were run and potential issues were discovered. These could have caused problems during the surgical procedure.
Running the pre-anesthetic bloodwork and catching these issues early allows the team to either fix the problem before performing the procedure, or tweak the levels of certain medications during the surgery. Ultimately it leads to a safer surgical procedure for any patient; regardless of previous medical issues.
Other than the pre-anesthetic checks, there are several other measures taken during your pet’s procedure to help keep them safe and comfortable. On the day of their surgery; the surgical team begins by ensuring that the pet will be calm before the procedure. Certified veterinary technicians first give the patient a pre-surgical medication to help keep them nice and calm. Once they are relaxed, intravenous fluids are started, which also contains additional pain medication for the pet during the procedure.
“That helps support the kidneys in particular, but also the blood pressure and the organs to ensure they are getting enough blood supply, even though the body has been sedated in preparation of surgery,” Dr. Mary Ann explained.
The main induction drug puts the animal into a deep sleep and keeps them from experiencing pain during the procedure.
“Once the pet is in a deep enough stage of sleep, we put a tube in their airway so they continue to receive plenty of oxygen and the exact amount of anesthetic gas they will need to remain sedated during the surgery,” Sheller said. These levels vary depending on several factors; including breed, size, and even age. Since the surgical team monitors the patient’s blood-pressure, breathing rate, ECG, and heartrate during the surgical procedure, they can always alter the amount of anesthetic gas at any time to meet the needs of each and every pet.
While there is no surgical procedure that is truly without risk, the Vale Park Animal Hospital surgical team uses various methods to monitor a patient’s health for the duration of their surgery. They also ensure that an anesthesia technician monitors the patient’s physical signs during the procedure as well; such as their gum color pulse quality, and pulse rate.
“It’s important to have a human monitor the pets along with a machine, because a human can pick up on things that a machine may not notice,” Sheller said. “During a surgery last Monday a technician noticed that a patient’s color wasn’t very good. Although the machine was telling us the oxygen levels were fine, we just weren’t happy with the color, as it told us something could be wrong with the pet’s circulation.”
“We adjusted the anesthetic drugs and within two to three minutes the patient’s color was back to normal, and the dog did just fine for the rest of the surgery.” Sheller assured.
Cases like this are why the team monitors their patients until they are awake wagging their tails. Even after the surgery patients are consistently monitored as they recover in their kennel. From wrapping recovering patients in warm towels to sending home post-surgical medications to keep them comfortable; the hospital staff works hard to ensure that every measure is accounted for to keep their patients happy and healthy.