7 Common Myths about Pet Anesthesia Risks

When it comes to pet anesthesia risks, there are several misconceptions that need to be cleared up. Below are what I feel are the 7 main myths that are commonly seen/heard. The bottom line is that when it comes to pet anesthesia risks you need to work closely with your veterinarian to make sure your pet is properly cared for.

1. Complications from anesthesia are common.

Although it seems like we often hear stories about pets dying under anesthesia, the risk is actually very small. For healthy pets the risk of death is less than 1 in 2,000. The risk is highest for older and sick pets. But pet anesthesia risks can be minimized greatly by a knowledgeable veterinarian.

2. I assume my vet knows what they are doing so I won't ask questions.

Some pet owners don't ask enough questions of their veterinarian. If your pet is undergoing an anesthetic procedure, don't worry about looking dumb, make sure you have all your questions answered beforehand.

3. I assume my pet will be closely monitored at all times.

Be sure to ask how your pet will be monitored and by whom. You want a skilled veterinary technician monitoring your pet closely at all times. You don't want that person doing other tasks during that time like cleaning counters or checking out other pets. You need them to be present in the room while your pet is anesthetized to minimize any risks.

4. My breeder says a certain anesthetic drug shouldn’t be used on my pet.

Instead of allowing your breeder to dictate your pet's care you should allow your veterinarian to custom tailor an anesthetic plan for your pet. Broad generalizations about certain anesthetic drugs are never good, and rarely accurate.

5. The greatest risk to my pet is during anesthesia.

Actually half of all anesthetic deaths happen during the recovery period, after the anesthesia has been stopped. This is why you need to ask your veterinarian who will be watching your pet during recovery.

6. All veterinary clinics are equal in skill.

Don't assume that anesthesia is just anesthesia. The skill level of veterinarians and technicians varies greatly between clinics. So if you don't feel comfortable with your current clinics perceived skill level, by all means go to another veterinary clinic.

7. Because my other pet had a reaction to a certain drug, my new pet shouldn't receive a that drug either.

There are many reasons why pets could have bad reactions to anesthesia. Not all of these reasons lay with the drug itself. It could have been due to your pet's health condition or a mistake by the veterinary clinic.

In summary, just don't assume that your veterinary clinic knows what it is doing. Be sure to ask lots of questions about how your pet is cared for before, during, and after the anesthetic episode. This is the best way to minimize any pet anesthesia risks.