Please join us as we take you step by step through the process of anesthesia at our hospital.  This “journey through anesthesia”  is an inside look at what methods and procedures we use at Cornerstone Veterinary Clinic to provide the safest anesthetic experience possible for your pet.

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Comprehensive Physical Examination

Prior to any anesthetic procedure, the doctor performs a thorough physical examination to check your pet’s overall health and well-being.  This examination alerts the doctor to any problems which may pose a risk for your pet while under anesthesia or may require further diagnostic testing.

Blood Chemistry Analysis

All pets, regardless of age, are required to undergo testing prior to administering anesthetic drugs.  These tests reveal important information about kidney and liver function.  This is important because the kidneys and liver metabolize the drugs used during anesthesia and the drugs used to control post-surgical pain.  Any abnormalities may cause the doctor to change the types of medications used or delay the procedure until the problem can be corrected.

IV Catheter Placement

Next, an IV catheter will be placed in one of your pet’s front legs.  This catheter allows medications to be administered during the induction and maintenance of anesthesia.  But more importantly, it allows for easy IV access in case of a medical emergency during anesthesia.

Pre-anesthetic Sedation and Pain Management

Pre-anesthetic medications are administered to help patients relax prior to being completely anesthetized.  These medications help to control pain during and after surgery, and allow your pet to wake up comfortably after the procedure is completed.

General Anesthesia

Once the pre-anesthetic medications have had sufficient time to take effect, its time to induce general anesthesia for surgery.  Your pet will be given an IV injection through the catheter that will make him/her go to sleep completely.  Then the doctor will place an endotracheal tube down the throat into the trachea.  This tube is connected to oxygen and an inhaled gas anesthetic to keep your pet asleep throughout the entire surgical procedure.  Monitors are now hooked up to measure heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, exhaled carbon dioxide levels and blood pressure.  Any abnormalities can be quickly corrected.

IV Fluids and IV Pain Medications

Depending upon the age of your pet, his/her physical condition, and the procedure being performed, the doctor may run IV fluids or continuous pain medications throughout the surgical procedure.  IV fluids help to maintain blood pressure and support kidney function (extremely important in older pets or pets with other systemic illnesses).  Continuous IV pain medication may be necessary for pets undergoing orthopedic or intestinal procedures or major tooth extractions.


Once the doctor has completed the surgical procedure, the inhaled gas anesthetic will be discontinued and your pet will continue to breathe oxygen as the anesthesia wears off.  Once your pet is conscious and able to swallow the endotracheal tube will be removed, and your pet will be placed in a warm recovery kennel.  Pain medications are continued throughout this period, and oral medication will be sent home according to the doctor’s instructions.

We hope your “journey through anesthesia” has been a good experience.  Hopefully this has answered some of your questions and has given you an idea of the care we exercise for all of our patients.  If you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to ask any member of our staff!

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