“I just really don’t want to put Fluffy under anesthesia . . .”

If I had 10 cents for every time I heard that phrase, I could probably get out from under my mountain of student loan debt. Wait. Scratch that. Make that 10,000,000 cents. Vet school is crazy expensive, y’all.

Point is, clients tell me a version of that statement pretty much every single day. It used to just baffle me because, hey, I’ve been involved with (and LOVING) surgeries as an RVT and a DVM for nigh-on 20 years. I can honestly count on one hand the number of complications I’ve witnessed in that time.

But that’s MY experience. It’s not my clients’. Bless them, they don’t have thousands of successful surgeries to look back on and balance against the few horror stories of Operations Gone Wrong that seem to constantly circulate. You know, the ones where their husband’s cousin’s high school teacher’s boss swears his dog went into the hospital just fine and never came home.

And so I have the talk, over and over, day after day. And I really don’t get tired of it. I get excited to talk about our anesthetic agents, advanced monitoring, trained staff and overall excellent level of care. Honestly, these poor souls probably just book the surgery to shut my ass up.

But it’s all true. If you could tour your local veterinary hospital, you would likely find a pulse oximeter, capnograph, and blood pressure monitor, just as you would find in a human hospital. Every surgery patient has an intravenous catheter placed for delivery of fluids and in case emergency drugs are needed. We use propofol for induction of anesthesia and sevoflurane gas for anesthetic maintenance.

And best of all, because most peri-operative deaths occur AFTER surgery (likely due to lack of monitoring), we take another page from human medicine. We bug the living crap out of the pets every 5 minutes until they regain a sufficient level of consciousness and appropriate vital signs as measured by their temperature, pulse and respiration rate.

If you’ve been putting off your pet’s dental cleaning, mass removal, or any other surgery because of anesthesia concerns, talk to your veterinarian. Share your concerns and give her the chance to bore you with all the nerdy ways we keep your critters safe during surgery!