Dogs and cats are routinely anesthetized for reasons ranging from chemical restraint for short-duration procedures to lengthy, painful surgical procedures. General anesthesia is often preferred to heavy sedation because it prevents patient movement, allowing procedures to be performed quickly and easily. Anesthesia should be administered in a way that maximizes patient survival, minimizes pain and anxiety, and results in minimal physiologic side effects.
Special consideration is required to design a plan for administering anesthesia during short-duration procedures (<15 minutes). As with any anesthetic event, the patient should be evaluated to determine whether anesthesia is appropriate. Special attention should be given to the cardiovascular and respiratory systems while conducting a complete examination and evaluating the patient history.
The need for biochemical assessment is often based on the patient’s history, age, and disease; however, at minimum, packed cell volume, total solids, blood urea nitrogen, and glucose levels should be evaluated. Many veterinarians may believe that if the anesthetic time is short, these tests can be skipped. Although there is evidence that longer and more involved procedures place dogs at greater risk, short-duration procedures are not inherently safe.1 Anesthesia used during short-duration procedures can contribute to complications and even death. Likewise, shortcuts should not be taken with anesthetic monitoring just because anesthetic time is brief: the risks for cardiovascular and respiratory derangements are still present.