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Anaesthetics and your pet.
What you need to know prior to surgery.

Looking after your pet

We receive a lot of questions about the use of general anaesthetic on pets. After all, they’re your family’s best friend—it’s only natural that you want to make sure it’s safe for them.

We want to dispel some of the myths that come with giving pets general anaesthetic, so you can get peace of mind that they’re being looked after.

Is using general anaesthetic on pets safe?

In short, yes. You might have heard that there are instances of complications when it comes to using general anaesthetic on pets.


But studies have shown that complications arising from general anaesthetic used on dogs and cats arise in just 2.1% and 1.3% of cases, respectively. And this means exactly that—only complications.


Pets actually dying due to complications resulting from general anaesthetic is extremely rare. It’s only known to occur in 0.11% of cases. That’s around a 1 in 1000 chance.

So, on the whole, general anaesthetic is perfectly safe to use on pets. 

The underlying issue with anaesthetic

While the actual statistics for animals passing away while under general anaesthetic are extremely low, it’s important to note that those studies didn’t take into account the actual causes of this occurring.

Further studies into the causes of death for animals under anaesthetic uncover that, in 59% of cases, existing natural diseases are the determining factor. So ultimately it’s diseases involving the heart, respiratory tract, and lungs that are the cause of these sad events.

How we’re making it safer

With any anaesthetic, whether it’s designed for humans or animals, there is always some degree of risk involved.

At Sage Vets we take all the necessary steps to reduce that risk by using modern gaseous anaesthetic machines, advanced monitoring systems ( similar to those used in human hospitals), and ensure your pets are put on intravenous fluids during surgery.

To further reduce any risk that derives from anaesthetic, we recommend booking your pet in for a pre-anaesthetic blood test prior to surgery.

How a pre-anaesthesia blood test works

A pre-anaesthesia blood test helps us to evaluate the health of your pet prior to surgery. These tests help us to check their internal organ functions, their protein levels, red blood cell counts, and pick up any abnormalities that we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to see with a general check-up.

Giving your pet a pre-anaesthesia blood tests allows us to plan ahead for their anaesthetic, and determine what’s going to be the safest method for them. We can detect any hidden illnesses, and make a plan that’s going to reduce their risk during the operation.

And better yet, you get peace of mind that your furry friend is going to be looked after, and will stay happy and healthy for a long time to come.

These blood tests can be run on-site the morning of the surgery.

Come in and talk to us

At the end of the day, choosing to get a pre-anaesthesia blood test for your pet is up to you.

If you have any questions or concerns about the need for the process, or what’s involved, simply drop in to one of our seven convenient locations and have a chat with one of our staff about what this means for your pet.

Dyson D, Maxie M, Schnurr D. Morbidity and mortality associated with anesthetic management in small animal veterinary practice in Ontario. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 1998;34(4):325-335.

Gaynor J, Dunlop C, Wagner A, et al. Complications and mortality associated with anesthesia in dogs and cats. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 1999;35(1):13-17

Fitzgerald, Merrilyn. (n.d.).The ins and out of surgical admission – what more can we do? [PDF] Available at: [Accessed 6 Mar. 2019].

DeLay, J. (2016). Perianesthetic Mortality in Domestic Animals. Veterinary Pathology, 53(5), pp.1078-1086.

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