Anesthesia in old dogs and cats

Anesthesia in old dogs and cats.

If you want to scare a pet lover, tell him or her that you are going to need to perform surgery on their pet who is in his teens. For lay people, it’s still a pretty scary concept.

However, in modern times it is nearly an everyday event. Of course, regardless of the age or condition of the patient, we veterinarians approach every surgery with great respect and concern. Never, ever, would we consider any procedure “routine,” not even the ones we perform daily.

Anesthesia today is so much safer than it has ever been. Here’s why:

  1. Pre-anesthesia laboratory testing is both advanced and routine.
  2. Pre-anesthetic drugs are safer. Before anesthesia even starts medications are given to help the body deal with the anesthetic and to prevent pain before it starts.
  3. Induction anesthetic agents are safer. Before “maintenance” anesthesia begins an induction agent starts the anesthetizing process. Modern induction agents are completely metabolized in a matter of minutes so that they don’t linger and complicate the maintenance anesthesia picture.

Maintenance anesthesia medications now give phenomenal control. When a procedure is over, we want our patients awake now. With inhaled anesthetic agents we have that kind of control.

Next Tuesday I have a 14-year old geriatric dog whose tail has to be removed to prevent complications from a tumor in that area. Today her preoperative laboratory test results came in and showed all systems to be healthy. While we will be incredibly cautious and attentive, we will enter the procedure without fear.


  1. Stephanie A says:

    Is it adviseable to anesthetize a dog with esophageal structure? He isn’t underweight and has good Pre -op test results. The structure was caused because of complications with Gerd and Aspiration pneumonia after an emergency surgery 3 years ago. The vet has advised neutering due to an extremely enlarged prostate. Dog is 13.

  2. Sharon Hayes says:

    My 11 year old Cavalier has cardiac disease and seizures. He now has an enlarged prostate and enlarged testicle. What are your thoughts on being neutered. It should be done but I am afraid of his reaction to anesthesia.

  3. Bekky Spaulding Garbo's mom says:

    I have learned so much every time I have search in this site. Thank you Dr. J. Randolph for your wisdom, experience and determined efforts in keeping My Pets Doctor current and available to pet parents everywhere.


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