One of the most frustrating clients I run across is the client who's pet has a problem I can fix, but the client won't let me because of their stubborn attachment to outdated or just wrong information. It's one of the reasons I write this blog. One of the worst offenders are owners who pets have dental disease. Have you ever had one tooth that was infected? I have, and it hurt like heck. I can only imagine the pain some of these dogs feel when their whole mouth is covered in tartar!
I'll get to dental disease in another blog, seeing as how dental disease leads to heart problems, kidney problems, liver problems.... However, today I want to talk about the excuse that you don't want to put your dog under anesthesia. It always makes me wonder, if Grandma broke a hip, would these people tell the doctor that she's too old to handle the anesthesia? Yes, anesthesia in pets is different, but not all that much. We have new drugs and protocols that make anesthesia of the dog and cat as safe as it's ever been.
Take this study for example: Perioperative deaths in small animals: findings so far(Vet Rec. April 2004;154(17):516-7). Here are some of their findings:
in the canine population
- healthy dogs had a mortality rate of 1 in 1795
- 33 deaths associated with anesthesia or sedation
- sick dogs had a mortality rate of 1 in 64
- 70 deaths associated with anesthesia or sedation
in the feline population
- healthy cats had a mortality rate of 1 in 872
- 53 deaths associated with anesthesia or sedation
- sick cats had a mortality rate of 1 in 118
- 69 deaths associated with anesthesia or sedation
And the results appear to indicate that things are getting better:
- in a similar study in the mid‑1980s, 1 in 679 healthy dogs and cats died primarily due to anesthesia
- North America studies in the early 1990s estimated 1 in 1000 for cats and dogs
The fact of the matter is anesthesia in the dog and cat is relatively safe. Since that study was published we have newer and better anesthetic protocols. We do a better job of screening patients and better monitoring equipment. Anesthesia is getting safer all the time.