January – February 2018: Save 25% on Comprehensive Lab Panel with Wellness Exam at Encina Veterinary Hospital

Dear Clients of Encina Veterinary Hospital,

Encina Veterinary Hospital prides ourselves on providing the best possible care for our patients, and part of this includes the recommendation that each of our patients have regular wellness examinations, which allows us to detect medical conditions in the early stages. When we detect medical conditions in earlier stages it is more likely to be treated and resolved with less expense, less difficulty, and better success. It is all too often that we diagnose medical conditions in the late stages when our patients are very sick and need more intense treatment.

A wellness evaluation consists of your veterinarian taking a detailed history about your pet, performing a physical examination, and possibly performing diagnostic tests to evaluate for conditions not detected on a physical examination, such as kidney disease. If kidney disease is diagnosed in the early stage it can sometimes be treated by simply changing your pet’s diet. Whereas, if kidney disease is diagnosed in the late stages then treatment might consist of hospitalization with intravenous fluids and other supportive care measures before being discharged on multiple medications and often times a short survival time. This is one example of the value of wellness exams.

As a way of promoting the value of wellness exams we are excited to announce that we are making January and February our Wellness months. During these months (01/01/2018 – 02/28/2018) we are offering our clients a 25% discount on comprehensive laboratory panels that we perform on any of your pets. All that we require is that you have a wellness examination for your pet in the month of January or February and present the wellness laboratory panel coupon at that appointment. You can find the coupon at the bottom of this letter and you are able to either print the email or present the coupon to your doctor’s assistant on your smart phone.

We look forward to seeing you soon with your pets to start the new year thinking about the health and wellness of your furry family members.

Wishing you the best in 2018,
Dr. Peter Nurre
Medical Director

Why does my vet have to do all that bloodwork

Bloodwork that we run here at Encina Veterinary Hospital falls into a few basic categories.

1) The CBC, or Complete Blood Count, measures the number, size, shape, and types of cells that are in the blood. The two main varieties of blood cells are the red blood cells and the white blood cells. The red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen to all of the body’s tissues. Assessing the red blood cells can tell us about diseases which cause acute or chronic blood loss, dehydration, destruction of red blood cells, or a decrease in production of red blood cells. Assessing the white blood cells tells us about infection, inflammation, clotting, and some cancers.
The veterinarian may also make a blood smear to get a closer look at the shape of cells which can be affected by various diseases or to confirm abnormal findings picked up by the CBC machine. The findings of the CBC are not always specific and must be interpreted in light of other diagnostics but it is a great place to start in order to be able to rule out broad categories of disease.

2) The blood chemistry and electrolytes are another component of basic bloodwork. This tells us about kidney and liver function, metabolic diseases, some cancers, endocrine diseases, gastrointestinal function, toxicities, and more.

“That’s all fine,” you say, “but why does Sadie need her blood checked when she just broke a nail?” Whenever we prescribe certain medications, such as an anti-inflammatory and pain medication in case of a broken nail, we have to keep in mind potential side effects and risks to the patient. Anti-inflammatories used in pets, such as Rimadyl, are generally very safe but can have rare and serious side effects involving the kidneys, liver, and gastrointestinal tract. When we prescribe Rimadyl we want to be sure that your pet does not have a condition that makes him or her more susceptible to these side effects so that a broken nail does not turn into kidney failure!

“Ok, but Rover just had bloodwork done a month ago, why are we repeating it?” Great question! Blood cell counts and chemistry can change day to day. If Rover is coming in to us with clinical signs which did not exist at the last visit, he may have significant changes in his bloodwork which will help us to diagnose his new illness.

“But Fluffy has never been sick in her life, why does my wellness appointment include bloodwork?” Our pets can’t tell us how they feel and often put on their bravest face for us, concealing chronic illness.

Annual bloodwork for them is like bloodwork every 7 or so years for us.

Early detection of certain chronic diseases such as kidney disease can help us take measures to slow their progression such as changing the diet of the pet.

Remember, if you have a question about why the veterinarian wants to perform a certain blood test, just ask! We would be happy to explain the reasoning and the risks we would be taking by not performing the bloodwork.

Dr. Alina Kelman

Seizures in Dogs and Cats

     A seizure is involuntary behavior that is caused by abnormal brain activity. Seizures may involve loss of consciousness, involuntary muscle activity affecting one part of the body, such as the face or whole body, sustained muscle contractions, alternating limpness, stiffness, inappropriate behavior – gum chewing, fly biting or attacking other pets or family members. Some seizures are one time events or may occur repeatedly over the course of weeks or months. The most important clue in determining if your pet has had a seizure or not is if they appear disoriented after the episode. This is otherwise known as the post-ictal phase.

     The causes for seizures differ based upon age and history – young animals causes include low blood sugar, liver shunts or improper brain development. In older pets we become concerned about brain tumors, infections, and/or autoimmune diseases. In both age groups we are concerned about toxin exposure such as chocolate ingestion, recreational drugs, pesticides, flea or tick medications or other infectious causes. Some breeds of dogs develop idiopathic epilepsy (or cause is unknown) – breeds include Labradors, Goldens, Bernese mountain dogs and poodles. Cats however require more advanced diagnostics which include spinal fluid analysis to determine infectious causes (toxoplasmosis) along with imaging.

     Diagnosis starts with a medical history, it is very important to note when your pet had a seizure, the duration, intensity and frequency of the seizure. Laboratory tests are necessary to help diagnose the cause of seizures if there is a cause outside of the brain. Additionally some dogs may require more advanced testing if the problem is located inside the brain. Tests include obtaining a sample of spinal fluid, performing an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography).

     Some dogs may have a single seizure and may not require further medications. Dogs that require medication have seizures more than once a month, or have had multiple seizures in one day. Medications may cause the pet to be sleepy at the beginning but they will acclimate or become used to the drug over time. Many pets remain on antiseizure medications for life and require regular serum drug levels to ensure proper drug dosaging to prevent seizures from “breaking through.” If your dog has a seizure longer than 5 – 10 minutes or is in a state of continuous seizures these dogs need to be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Caroline Li, DVM

Why is My Pet Eating Grass and Plants?

     The answer for why many dogs and cats eat grass and other plants is not clear – cut. Some of the more popular theories are that they have a deficiency in diet, need for more fiber, or that it is a natural instinct inherited from ancestors to rid the body of intestinal parasites. Recent research suggests that most pets eat grass when they are not showing signs of illness. In a recent study conducted at UC Davis by Karen Sueda and her colleagues, it was reported that only 9% of dogs appear ill prior to consuming plant material and only 22% were seen vomiting afterward. It also suggested that younger animals tend to eat plants more often and less frequently appeared ill before plant – eating. Younger animals also have an increased likelihood of consuming other non- grass plants.

     If your pet is consuming plant material, it may be normal behavior. If your pet has other signs of illness, please consult your veterinarian. Your pet should have a complete physical exam to rule out any underlying illnesses.

     The following is a short list of some common toxic plants. If you suspect that your pet has consumed these or other toxic plants, please consult a veterinarian immediately:
Castor beans
Cycad palms (Sago palm)
English Ivy
Peace lily
Autumn crocus
Tulip/narcissus bulbs

Lacey LaVigna, DVM

Lymphoma in Dogs and Cats

Lymphoma is a very common form of cancer seen in dogs and cats. It arises from the abnormal proliferation of lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) within different tissues around the body. Lymphoma most commonly occurs in the lymph nodes, the spleen, and the liver, but the disease can involve almost any tissue in the body, which makes the presentation and course of the disease extremely variable.

Lymphoma is most commonly seen in middle-aged dogs and certain breeds are also predisposed to it, such as boxers and golden retrievers. Most dogs who develop lymphoma get a formed called “multicentric” in which several of the lymph nodes become enlarged. Lymphoma will also commonly affect the intestinal tract, liver, spleen, chest, and the skin.

Signs of lymphoma are extremely variable due to the disease’s ability to affect so many different locations around the body. The most common sign is lymph node enlargement, which may feel like lumps growing below the skin. This is often the only sign present, but some animals with lymphoma can also develop weight loss, lethargy, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, increased drinking/urination, skin lesions, difficulty breathing, facial swelling, or any combination of these signs.

The diagnosis of lymphoma depends on it’s location but it is most often diagnosed by aspirating cells from the affected organs (lymph nodes, spleen, liver) with a small needle and examining the cells under a microscope. In some cases a biopsy is required to make a diagnosis. Based on aspiration or biopsy results the “grade” of the cancer can also be determined, as well as the cell type present (T-cell versus B-cell lymphoma), both of which help us estimate a prognosis for the disease.

Lymphoma is very serious disease and will almost always claim an animal’s life eventually, however with treatment dogs and cats can life a relatively long period of time, with a high quality of life, doing all the normal things that they love. Without treatment the prognosis is only 1-2 months, with treatment the prognosis depends on the type of lymphoma present and the treatment protocol followed. Treatment for lymphoma is individually tailored to each animal, as well as the time and financial constraints of their owner. Chemotherapy in dogs and cats is usually far better tolerated than in people. We use lower doses, in order to maintain quality of life during treatment, and most animals will have minimal side effects.

In general, the treatment protocols for lymphoma that provide the best survival times and the best chance of putting an animal’s disease into remission are multi-drug protocols. With these protocols animals will generally be given a different chemotherapeutic drug every 1-2 weeks for 6 months or longer. Other treatment options include single drug chemotherapy protocols or treatment with steroids alone. These options are less costly than multi-drug protocols but generally the remission times and survival times are not as long.

We understand how scary it is to have a family pet diagnosed with a cancer such as lymphoma, however by working with your veterinarian and local veterinary oncologist lymphoma can be managed to allow you to spend the most quality time possible with your pet.

Trevor Miller, DVM

Importance of Pre Anesthetic Blood Work for Pets

Pre-anesthetic blood work is essential in any animal undergoing anesthesia. If you could go to Las Vegas, sit at a poker table and know what the dealers cards were, wouldn’t you? Anesthetic procedures are a gamble albeit the risks of complications are greater on the car ride to the hospital and not the anesthesia itself.

Having blood work done on your pet allows your veterinarian to see the dealer’s cards and increase your pet’s odds of having a complication free procedure. When pets are young, they can have congenital problems associated with their liver or kidneys that can alter how their body handles the anesthetic drugs. These issues often show no symptoms or signs for some time, which leads us to believe your pet is healthy and problem free. Truth is, we don’t know until we analyze the blood work and get a break down of what is going on inside of your pet. Often times, the blood work comes back normal and we are able to celebrate normal!

When we analyze pre-anesthetic blood work at Encina Veterinary Hospital, we are looking at the following values:
     – BUN, CREATININE, and PHOSPHORUS (related to Kidney function)
     – ALT, ALKALINE PHOSPHATASE, and BILIRUBIN (related to Liver function)
     – AMYLASE and LIPASE (related to Pancreas function)
     – TOTAL PROTEIN and GLOBULIN (related to the immune system and dehydration)
     – ELECTROLYTES (related to endocrine diseases, kidney function, and dehydration)
We often analyze other values, depending on the blood panel ran and what the needs of the pet are.

In adult and senior animals, issues such as organ dysfunction associated with old age changes or disease that decreases their ability to break down and excrete anesthetic drugs may arise, which makes pre-anestheic blood work even more essential. In addition to this, if their RBC (red blood cell) count is low, it makes it difficult for your pet to get enough oxygen (because these cells transport and distribute oxygen all throughout your pet’s body) and there are many complications that can arise including cardiac arrest.

It is important to know that many pets can have mild to moderate levels of organ dysfunction or anemia without actually appearing sick. Blood work that doesn’t come back normal doesn’t necessarily mean that your pet may not have the procedure done as expected; it may mean that your veterinarian may use a different drug that better fits your pet and their individual needs. Some times however, blood work tells us that the procedure is not able to be done at this moment for one reason or another. In times like this, your veterinarian will work closely with you and your pet in order to get him or her healthier.

Jared Jaffey, DVM

Importance of Annual Exams for Dogs and Cats

Annual exams are important part of veterinary medicine, in part due to the fact that they provide a veterinarian with incite into how your pet has been doing since its last visit, they address and treat certain problems or conditions that may be going on with your pet presently, and they can provide your animal with preventative measures such as vaccinations and medications that are important factors at preventing the spread of diseases not only to your animal, but also to prevent the spread of disease to other animals that your animal may come in contact with — including yourself.

During the annual exam, a veterinarian will ask certain questions about your pet’s history in order to see how your pet has been doing since its last visit. Some questions may be geared toward problems that have been going on, while some other questions may be directed toward finding out the answer to a specific problem(s) that may have been occurring recently or in the past. By asking these questions, it allows a veterinarian to gain knowledge about an animal’s overall health and about the management of certain diseases or problems that an animal may have. It also allows the owner to ask questions to a veterinarian about concerns or problems that they may with their pets at home over the past year.

After the history of a pet has been taken and the owner’s questions have been answered, a veterinarian will perform a physical examination in order to help determine the current health of an animal. A good physical examination will take a look at different parts of your animal’s body to determine if any disease is present. For example, a veterinarian may listen to the heart to determine if there is evidence of any heart disease and he or she may palpate the animal’s belly in order to determine if any abnormalities are present within the internal organs. There are many organ systems that can have disease present and that the owner may not be aware of these problems being present until a complete and through all physical examination is performed by a veterinarian. This is one of the reasons why annual exams are extremely important to have performed consistently, so that problems associated with certain organ system can be caught early and be addressed through diagnostics and/or treatment.

In addition to the physical examination, a veterinarian may ask an owner to have annual blood work and urinalysis performed in order to screen for certain diseases. Blood work and urine screening allow the veterinarian to look at how certain organ systems are functioning on a physiological manner and to see if any changes in the blood work or urine could indicate disease. Animals can appear overtly healthy on the outside, but physiologically they can have disease present. This is why it is important and recommended by veterinarians to have these tests performed on a yearly basis.

After the physical exam and diagnostic tests have been performed, preventative measures such as flea/tick control, teeth brushing/cleaning, hair coat maintenance, and/or vaccinations can be discussed by a veterinarian. These preventative measures are extremely important in veterinary medicine because they help to prevent the spread of disease not only in the animal they are examining, but also help to prevent the spread of diseases to the community of animals or humans that the animal lives in. Without these preventative measures in place, more diseases would be prevalent than they are today. This is why it is important to vaccinate pets yearly and to use preventative medications monthly in order to help control the spread of infectious diseases within a community.

Therefore, in order to ensure the health of our pets and of the community with which they live in, annual exams should be performed to not only to prevent the spread of diseases through vaccinations and medications, but also to evaluate, address, and treat certain diseases that could be present within our pets. Early screening for any disease can help to monitor an animal’s overall health and if a disease is caught early, it can decrease the impact that it may have on animal’s future lifespan.
If you have not gotten your pet’s annual exam performed this year, please schedule an appointment to have them looked at to ensure that they are feeling at their best, to screen them for any diseases, and to ensure that they can be protected against diseases that they may come in contact with in the future.

Jonathan MacStay, DVM

Parvovirus in Dogs

Parvovirus is a virus that is found in all environments and all seasons (survives in the environment for more than 7 months) that affects dogs. People and cats are not infected by parvovirus (cats are affected by a similar virus known as distemper). Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated puppies (younger than 8 months old) and unvaccinated adult dogs are most susceptible to the devastating parvovirus infections. A puppy may get infected when his/her mouth comes in contact with the virus in feces, contaminated soil, or other materials that are infected with this virus, which commonly happens on a simple walk.

Most common exposure to parvovirus ocacurs in dog parks, grassy reas, and overcrowded housing situations. Once ingested, the incubation period (time between exposure and clinical signs) is 3-14 days. The factors that determine whether a puppy will get sick from their exposure to parvovirus can vary and may include: the amount of exposure to the virus, the number of vaccines, and the overall health at time of exposure (ex. stressed animals and those housed in crowded areas are more likely to become sick after exposure). Once infected, these animal shed (release) a HUGE amount of the virus in their feces, saliva and vomit, which other dogs may get sick from. Dogs that survive this infection can continue to shed (release) the virus for 2-3 weeks. Since the virus is built to be hardy, it is resistant to many household cleaning agents and can be difficult to eradicate (10% bleach is recommended for cleanup). Any dog can get parvovirus but some breeds are highly susceptible including Doberman pinschers, rottweilers, pit bulls, German shepherds and dachshund breeds.

Vaccination is the single most important preventative effort. Puppies should be vaccinated against parvovirus (with DHPP vaccine) starting at 8 weeks of age and should receive the DHPP vaccine every 3-4 weeks until they are 12 weeks of age to be considered vaccinated. Puppies that have not received the full vaccination series should not be allowed to go to dog parks, play on grass, and frequent areas where unvaccinated dogs may be present (including walks in the neighborhood). Puppy classes pose little risk to other participating puppies as long as they have had at least one vaccine, are healthy and are not showing clinical signs of parvovirus infection. Please be sure to check with the facility your puppy may be attending puppy classes at for more information on how they prevent the spread of parvo. If you suspect that your puppy has symptoms consistent with parvovirus or may have been exposed, you should bring him/her into Encina Veterinary Hospital for testing.

Parvovirus destroys the lining of the small intestine and depletes the body of white blood cells that are needed to fight infection. In very young puppies parvovirus can cause permanent damage to the muscles of the heart. The virus acts on the lining of the small intestine and causes it to be sloughed off, which allows blood and liquids to leave the body and bacteria from the gut to enter the body. For this reason the most common symptom of the parvovirus infection is bloody, foul smelling liquid diarrhea. Other clinical signs include lethargy/decreased activity, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Severely ill animals can develop severe dehydration, sepsis, shock and death. If animals are housed together they can develop these symptoms within a couple days of one another. Once symptoms occur these pets should be separated and presented to a veterinarian for diagnostics and treatment.

A quick fecal test can be performed at the veterinary clinic to confirm this infection. Bloodwork is necessary to determine the white blood cell count and overall health status. These test are very important as they help guide the overall treatment plan. Fecal sample may be sent out to the laboratory for analysis as young puppies can be concurrently infected with parasites such as worms and giardia, which should also be treated.

Treatment for parvovirus infection should be performed as soon as diagnosed and in a veterinary hospital such as Encina Veterinary Hospital. Treatment involves intravenous fluids for rehydration, antibiotics, pain medication, anti-emetic, and correction of electrolyte or blood sugar imbalances. While in the hospital, patients will also be monitored for low blood pressure and low and/or high temperatures.
Severely affected animals such as those in shock or septic will require longer and more involved treatments. Puppies and adult dogs that are treated for parvovirus in a veterinary hospital will be placed in an isolation ward as they are contagious to other unvaccinated dogs. Because parvovirus is such an aggressive virus and highly contagious, dogs who are positive for parvo are often isolated from non-infected dogs.

With the appropriate treatment led by a veterinarian, parvo can be beat and your dog can live a healthy life. However, it’s important to know that the response to treatment plays a huge role in the chances a dog has at beating parvo. Without appropriate treatment as soon as clinical signs are noted, the chances of survival decrease. In untreated animals, severe illness most often results in death.

If you feel your dog may have been exposed to the parvovirus and is now positive, please give us a call immediately: (925) 937-5000

Maryam O’Hara DVM

Inflammatory Bowel Disease in Dogs and Cats

Inflammatory bowel disease (aka IBD) is a disorder of dogs and cats where inflammatory cells (types of white blood cells within the blood) abnormally infiltrate the stomach and intestines, causing abnormal digestion of food. In cats, the disease can be part of a serious complex that also affects the liver and pancreas.

IBD is one of the most common causes of chronic vomiting and diarrhea in both dogs and cats. Other signs of IBD can include gradual weight loss, a dull hair coat, lethargy, hiding, and a decreased or increased appetite. Your veterinarian at Encina Veterinary Hospital may pick up on other signs during a physical exam, such as thickened gut loops and enlarged abdominal lymph nodes.

The exact cause or root of IBD is still not known; it is thought to be caused by a variety of triggers. These include intolerance to certain diets, gastrointestinal parasites and bacteria, and an individual’s genetic predisposition. Unfortunately, the exact trigger is usually not found, so the cause is labeled as “idiopathic” or unknown.

Diagnosing IBD is somewhat more complicated than other conditions. IBD cannot be diagnosed by a blood test and the only way to confirm IBD is to collect samples of tissue from inside the stomach, intestines, and colon. Once these samples are collected, they are sent off to the lab for analysis to see if signs of inflammatory infiltration are present. Samples are collected by either endoscopy (where a tiny camera is passed through the mouth and colon using a thin and flexible tube) or via exploratory surgery. Before these advanced tests are performed, your veterinarian will typically recommend a variety of less complex tests to rule out other causes of chronic vomiting and diarrhea first. These tests may include comprehensive blood, urine, and fecal tests and/or an abdominal ultrasound.

As a chronic illness, pets diagnosed with IBD will require regular rechecks with your veterinarian as well as emotional and financial investment in order to manage. Treatments for this condition may be life long, treatments are aimed at making your dog or cat feel better, and treatments are usually performed in a step-wise fashion. Your veterinarian may first recommend starting oral antibiotics and dewormers, as well as starting a strict prescription diet for several weeks to rule out bacterial, parasitic, and dietary triggers. In the rare case, your pet may feel better with these treatments alone. Most cases require additional treatments with anti-inflammatories. Starting these anti-inflammatories can actually hinder the diagnosis of IBD and is usually not recommended until biopsies are collected or your veterinarian has a very strong suspicion that IBD is present. Your veterinarian will work with you to help find the right combination of medications and treatments that will make your pet feel better.

If left untreated, IBD can be a serious disease which can lead to severe weight loss, decreased appetite, depression, and a poor quality of life. In rare cases in cats, IBD can actually lead to intestinal lymphoma, which is a type of cancer.

While IBD is a complicated and chronic disease process affecting many dogs and cats that requires veterinary care in order to diagnose and treat, this is a manageable condition. Your veterinarian is the best person to help formulate a plan that will make your dog or cat feel better and improve the quality of their life.

Erica Chiu DVM

Anesthesia 101 for the Pet Owner

Having an anesthetic procedure performed can be a scary experience for both you and your pet, but it doesn’t have to be. If you know the right questions to ask your veterinarian or RVT (registered veterinary technician) that will be performing the anesthesia, it will help alleviate some of your anxiety and give you peace of mind.

Why do we perform blood work or an ultrasound prior to anesthesia at Encina Veterinary Hospital and how does this influence our anesthetic plan for your pet? Blood work and sometimes ultrasound aids us in looking for abnormalities within your pet’s organ systems. Some blood abnormalities we look for are low red cell counts (anemia), elevated kidney or liver levels, electrolyte abnormalities (electrolytes are things like potassium, sodium, chloride etc) or decreased protein levels in the blood. In addition, ultrasound helps us diagnose the severity of heart disease if your pet has a murmur or a mass/tumor in the body. These are just a few of the abnormalities that will help us determine your pet’s anesthetic plan. The medical history (previous medical problems or history of hospitalization) of your pet also aids in determining our anesthetic protocol. Anesthesia is NOT a one size fits all. We will choose the anesthetic drugs for your pet depending on its blood work, ultrasound results and medical history. Species and breed type can also influence our anesthetic plan. Sight hounds (Greyhounds, Whippets etc), brachycephalics (Pugs, English Bulldogs, Boxers etc) and cats, in general, can have different reactions to certain anesthetic drugs that differ from the majority of the pet population. Pets that are overweight, old (usually 9yrs or older) or very young (4 months or younger) also have anesthetic issues that can alter their anesthetic plans. All of this is taken into account when deciding on what anesthetic drugs will be safest for your pet.

Your pet will have many monitoring devices placed on it during anesthesia. The monitors help us make sure your pet has the safest anesthetic experience possible. We monitor your pet’s heart rate with an ECG as well as its blood pressure. Blood pressure is a VERY important vital sign to monitor. It tells us whether your pet’s organs and tissues are getting enough blood and therefore oxygen (blood carries oxygen that is vital in keeping your pet alive). The cells that make up tissues and organs can die if not enough oxygen is delivered to them. Initially this may not be a big deal, but if your pet has multiple anesthetic procedures and blood pressure is not monitored or is low your pet can start showing signs of organ disease. If blood pressure continues to be low during anesthesia we will administer fluids and sometimes drugs to help increase it. Low blood pressure is usually a side effect of most anesthetic drugs. Usually blood pressure returns to normal once anesthesia is discontinued. Carbon dioxide levels are also very important to monitor. If carbon dioxide starts increasing in your pet it can lead to very serious complications and eventually may lead to death. If carbon dioxide levels do start to increase during anesthesia, we will place your pet on a ventilator (a machine to assist your pet in breathing better). This DOES NOT mean that your pet has developed a breathing problem. Most of the drugs that we use for anesthesia cause respiratory depression i.e. breathing depth and frequency become decreased causing carbon dioxide to build up. Once your pet is recovered, breathing depth and frequency will usually return to normal. Oxygenation of the blood is monitored which aids us in making sure that enough oxygen is being transported by the red cells to your pet’s body. Your pet’s temperature is continually monitored with a temperature probe (like a big thermometer you use at home). This probe is placed in your pet’s throat or rectum depending on the surgical operation – don’t worry, the probes covers are changed after every surgical procedure. Usually your pet will have a warming device that blows warm air placed on top or under them to keep their temperatures normal. If your pet is small or sick, we may place two of these warming devices on them as these patients get cold quickly.

After your pet’s surgical or dental procedure is finished at Encina Veterinary Hospital, they will usually receive another dose of pain medication upon recovery. Again, this pain medication is chosen depending on their medical history. If you know that your pet has had a certain anesthetic or pain drug in the past and has not done well on it let the doctor or staff know so we can chose another drug. There are many newer anesthetic and pain drugs that are available to us. Your pet will recover in our ICU or preoperative area depending on the severity of their medical condition or surgical procedure. Patients that recover in ICU have many things that need to be monitored post operatively by our ICU nurses such as IV fluids or constant pain medications. Patients with moderate to severe organ disease will also be placed in ICU along with older healthy patients. Younger and healthier patients will recover in the preoperative area where they are watched by our surgical staff.

Anesthetic complications, though rare, can occur in any pet because ANY patient can have drug reactions that we can not predict. Some drug reactions can be reversed by using drugs that are specifically made for this purpose. Unfortunately, reversal drugs are only commonly available for opioids (morphine type drugs) and certain sedation drugs (Dexdomitor). Most other drugs can not be reversed so if a reaction occurs we can only support the patient with IV fluids and other drugs to minimize the reaction. Unfortunately, sometimes this is not enough and the patient may die, although this is EXTREMELY uncommon. We try to minimize all potential anesthetic complications by obtaining current medical history from you the pet owner as well as having current blood work on your pet. Records are reviewed by the surgical doctor as well as the RVT anesthetic staff the day of anesthesia. Again, once your pet’s history and blood work has been reviewed we will develop an anesthetic plan specific to your pet to minimize all potential complications and risks.

In addition, our anesthetic staff is the only staff in the entire Bay Area that is overseen by an RVT with a specialty in anesthesia (avta-vts.org). This allows our staff and doctors to be current on all anesthetic and pain drugs that are available including being current on new recommendations for their safe use.

Susan Burns BS, RVT, VST (Anesth)