Monitoring Your Pet Under Anesthesia During a Dental Procedure

dog under anesthesia for teeth cleaning

Monitoring Your Pet Under Anesthesia During a Dental Procedure

The use of anesthesia is often one of the biggest concerns pet owners have when they bring their pets in for dental cleanings or oral surgery. At Animal Dental Care and Oral Surgery, we understand the value and importance of balanced anesthesia. And we strive to provide our patients with the most up to date monitoring equipment, safest medications, and expert care of highly trained staff. 

Our Trained Team Members

Animal Dental Care and Oral Surgery employs Certified Veterinary Technicians (CVTs) to perform anesthetic monitoring of their patients. This certification is obtained through an accredited 2 or 4-year institution. Once graduated, they are required to pass a rigorous timed test and become licensed through their state. Our CVT’s are screened before hiring with additional onsite training to specifically care for the specialized procedures we perform. 

What is Balanced Anesthesia?

Balanced anesthesia means using different modes of medications to assist with pain, sedation, and recovery. Combining smaller amounts of multiple medications that synergistically work together decreases the use of heavy sedatives. Some pets become anxious at the veterinarian’s office. When this anxiety is combined with pre-existing dental pain the level of stress can increase. We recognize this in our patients and frequently give them a calming sedative soon after arrival. A detailed patient history and physical exam will provide us with a wealth of information to develop the appropriate anesthetic plan.

How Will You Monitoring My Pet?

Before Anesthesia

Monitoring does not just mean “watching” the pet while they are under anesthesia. There is so much more! When your pet is admitted to Animal Dental Care and Oral Surgery for a procedure, our CVT’s will ensure that they are comfortable, safe, and as relaxed as they can be. Working closely with your Veterinary Dentist, they formulate an anesthetic plan that will be the best fit for each patient considering their age, health and medical history. A premedication injection is given to help with pain and sedation. 

Once an IV catheter is placed, a different type of monitoring begins. The electrocardiogram, or ECG, is placed to assess the electrical conductivity of the heart and the doctor is alerted to any abnormalities. A blood pressure is then obtained. During this time the pet is also provided supplemental oxygen that helps them adjust to the early stages of anesthesia. 

During Anesthesia

Once the pet is under anesthesia, more in-depth monitoring begins. Therefore, it is important to have a dedicated CVT perform anesthesia administration and monitoring while another technician performs the comprehensive dental cleaning and imaging. Your pet’s vital signs will be logged every 5 min, but monitoring is continuous with the use of top of the line equipment and diligent veterinary technicians.Our CVT’s are trained to evaluate trends and know when to alert the doctor with a concern so it can be addressed right away. 

Along with the electrocardiograph (ECG) the technician will be watching the SP02, an oxygenation reading. Capnometry is vital to anesthesia. It will tell the CVT the patient’s quality and rate of respiration, along with the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) they are exhaling. Monitoring the capnogram will dramatically increase the safety of an anesthetic procedure. 

Blood pressure measurement is taken every 3 minutes and provides one of the most important parameters for safe anesthesia monitoring. A pulse doppler is also applied to the leg or tail to assist the technician with sounds and changes in the intensity of blood flowing through arteries. Temperature is continuously monitored, and a forced warm air device is placed over your pet for safe and effective heat support. The technician also actively uses a stethoscope to routinely monitor the pet. 

Figure 1. A LifeWindow monitor that is used at Animal Dental Care and Oral Surgery showing the numerous parameters we use to safely monitor our anesthetic patients.

After Anesthesia

When the procedure is finished, your pet will have his or her heart rate, respiration rate and temperature taken every 10-20 minutes until they are within the normal limits. This is to ensure they are comfortable, warm, and not in pain. We walk them as soon as they are able to rise under their own power. Our patients are routinely up and walking within 20 minutes after waking up! It is great to see their tails wagging or hear an adorable meow when they see their family!

All of the extensive monitoring equipment we use is critical to improving the safety of our anesthetic procedures. However, we stress the saying, “Monitor your patient, not your monitors!” Technology is indispensable for safe anesthetic procedures, but we treat the entire patient and do not lose track of the value of the “human touch”. That is why our CVTs are constantly listening to their patient’s heart rate with a stethoscope, observing their respirations and feeling their pulses throughout the procedure. 

What about Underlying Conditions? 

Patients with diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, are not precluded from having anesthetic procedures, particularly dental procedures. In fact, these dogs and cats are the pets that need dental procedures under anesthesia the most! Animal Dental Care and Oral Surgery in Colorado Springs has CVT Veterinary Trained Specialists (VTS) in anesthesia to assist in these procedures. Our technicians have gone through a rigorous training and testing program that allows them to give that extra needed support to ensure your pet’s health and safety. 

At Animal Dental Care and Oral Surgery in Colorado Springs, Castle Pines and Loveland, Colorado, your pet’s safety is of the utmost priority. We are here to help you keep your pet healthy and happy for many years to come!