Is Anesthesia Safe for My Pet


Fear of anesthesia is often cited as a reason why pet parents hesitate to put their dog or cat under for a procedure. Although risks inherent to anesthesia do exist for veterinary patients, the chance of death from anesthesia is low in healthy cats and dogs undergoing routine elective procedures. The chances of death in healthy cats and dogs are less than 0.1 percent and the chances of death in sick cats and dogs is less than 1.5 percent.

Source: Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia Fifth Edition

Source: Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia Fifth Edition

A study of cats under anesthesia reported that anesthetic risk decreases with adequate monitoring of the patient’s vitals and blood oxygenation levels. In an effort to minimize risk to our patients, we at NorthStar VETS adhere to current veterinary anesthesia standards by implementing diligent monitoring of patient vitals. Standard monitoring includes pulse rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, mucous membranes and capillary refill time, temperature, ventilation (measuring exhaled carbon dioxide), blood oxygen levels, and EKGs.

Because anesthetic risk is associated with the health status of patients, we recommend pre-operative bloodwork in our patients to complement the results of our physical examination to better assess our patient’s health status prior to anesthesia. Diagnostic tests sometimes help us identify hidden diseases so you can make an informed decision about your pet’s health.

Source: Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia Fifth Edition

Source: Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia Fifth Edition

While old age is not a disease, geriatric patients commonly present with additional diseases that can predispose them to anesthetic complications. Many of the patients that come to NorthStar VETS are older and sick. This sub-population of patients therefore will benefit most from a thorough pre-anesthetic diagnostic workup. Surgery and anesthesia doctors and nurses at Northstar VETs benefit from the support of specialists in Surgery, Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Emergency and Critical Care and our residency-trained Anesthesiologist to improve the safety of anesthesia in our higher-risk patient population. We are able to tailor our anesthesia protocols to an individual pet’s needs to ensure the safest anesthetic experience possible.

Learn more about the different services at NorthStar VETS.


Raphael Vezina-Audette, DVM, MScRaphael Vezina-Audette, DVM, MSc
Raphael Vezina was born in Montreal, Quebec and lived in Mexico, Brazil and Ireland. Dr. Vezina attended McGill University and graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science degree (Anatomy and Cell Biology) and in 2009 with a Master of Science degree (Biology). He attended the University of Montreal, School of Veterinary Medicine from 2010-2014. Immediately after graduating veterinary school, Dr. Vezina worked in private practice in Montreal for a year. Then, Dr. Vezina pursued a residency veterinary anesthesia in Philadelphia, PA at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine with Dr. Bernd Driessen as his program director. Dr. Vezina completed his residency before joining NorthStar VETS in August of 2018. Dr. Vezina’s professional interests include pain management and locoregional analgesia. Dr. Vezina is available for consults if you need to discuss the risks of anesthesia as it pertains to your pet ahead of surgery!

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