Preparing Your Dog for Anesthesia: Everything Owners Should Know

dog and owner

Anesthesia is a necessary procedure for many surgeries and dental procedures that your dog may need to undergo. However, the procedure can be stressful for both you and your pet. As a pet owner, you must understand the process and how to prepare your dog for it to ensure a safe and successful procedure.

Understanding Anesthesia

Anesthesia is the use of drugs to induce a state of unconsciousness to perform medical procedures. It can include general anesthesia, which renders the patient unconscious, or local anesthesia, which numbs a specific body area. The type of anesthesia utilized will depend on the procedure performed and your dog's overall health.

Pre-anesthesia Exam

Before any procedure, your vet will conduct a thorough physical examination to ensure your dog is healthy enough for anesthesia. It will include taking vital signs such as temperature, heart rate, and breathing rate. They will also check for any underlying medical conditions that could affect the anesthesia.


Fasting is a crucial aspect of preparing your dog for anesthesia. It means your dog should not have food or water for a certain period before the procedure. The length of fasting time will vary with the type of procedure and the individual dog, but it is typically around eight to 12 hours for food and two to four hours for water.

Fasting helps reduce the risk of vomiting during the procedure. It ensures your dog is not hungry or thirsty during recovery.


Bloodwork is often done before an anesthetic procedure to check the overall health of your dog's organ systems. It can include a complete blood count, chemistry panel, and coagulation profile. These tests can help identify any underlying health issues that could affect the anesthetic process and recovery.

Choosing an Anesthetic Agent

There are different types of anesthetic agents used on dogs. Each has its benefits and risks. Your vet will choose the appropriate anesthetic agent based on your dog's size, breed, and health. They will also consider the procedure performed.

Monitoring During Anesthesia

During the procedure, your dog will be closely monitored to ensure they are safe and comfortable. The process can include monitoring heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure, as well as checking the level of consciousness.

Your dog's oxygen levels will also be monitored. Any necessary adjustments will happen to ensure they are getting enough oxygen.

Recovery and Aftercare

After the procedure, the staff will move your dog to a recovery area for close monitoring. You will be able to take your dog home once your vet feels they are ready.

Follow your vet's instructions for aftercare, which may include providing your dog with pain medication and monitoring for any signs of complications, such as bleeding or infection.

Be Prepared for Potential Complications

While most dogs recover from anesthesia without complications, it is vital to prepare for potential issues that can arise. It can include breathing difficulties, bleeding, or infection. Your dog can also have an allergic reaction to the drugs.

It is vital to watch for any signs of complications, such as excessive bleeding, swelling, or difficulty breathing, and to contact your vet immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

For more about preparing your dog for anesthesia, visit Richfield Animal Medical Center at our office in Richfield, Ohio. Call 330-659-6606 to book an appointment today.