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  Volume No. 10 Issue No. 5 May 2014  

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Pet Care
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Dr. Jim Humphries
  The safety of veterinary anesthesia
  By Dr. Jim Humphries

   Anesthesia means the loss of sensation or insensibility to pain. This is exactly what we need in order to perform invasive surgeries, such as spays and neuters or even more complex procedures like fracture repairs or tumor removal. Many pet owners have heard stories about the dangers of general anesthetic. Unfortunately, this may cause some people to forego important or even life saving procedures because they are worried about the risk of anesthesia.
   Although no surgery is completely without risk, today veterinarians have special training in anesthesiology and take great precautions, including using the latest in medications and monitoring, to keep anesthesia as safe as it can be. Much of today’s veterinary anesthesia is, if not similar, then exactly the same as human medicine. It is a much more modern process today that it was a decade ago.
   Anesthesia is NOT a “one size fits all” type procedure. Your veterinarian will assess your pet’s health status, weight, age and other factors to find the right mix of medications and fluid support.
   Many safety precautions, such as circulating water warming blankets, computerized IV fluid pumps and state of the art, seven parameter monitoring devices allow the veterinary anesthetist to maintain body temperature and watch important trends in vital signs. This means that response to potential problems is quick and more effective.
   Next, highly skilled veterinary technicians and assistants are on hand to monitor the patient. The pet’s heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and oxygen levels are all watched and tracked so that the patient is kept at just the right level of anesthesia to allow the procedure and prevent pain.
   Finally, science has given veterinarians a new generation of very safe anesthetic drugs and gases that can be precisely measured for your pet’s needs. Modern anesthetics even include reversible drugs that allow veterinarians to wake your pet more smoothly and get him back home to you sooner.
   So, although all anesthetics will have some risk, don’t believe rumors about wide-spread dangers of pet surgeries or dental cleanings. Take the time to talk with your veterinarian about your concerns. They can show you how advanced animal hospitals keep your pet safe and secure during any surgery!
   Dr. Jim Humphries is a house call veterinarian in Falcon. He also serves as a visiting professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University. He lives in Falcon with his wife, horses and Great Danes.


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