To give truly informed consent, pet owners should be educated about the risks of anesthesia.
According to literature reviews, overall risk for anesthetic-related mortality within 48 hours of an anesthetic event is 0.17% in dogs, 0.24% in cats, and 1.39% in rabbits. In healthy pets, the risk is 0.05%, 0.11%, and 0.73% in dogs, cats, and rabbits, respectively. The risks in sick patients is 1.33%, 1.4%, and 7.37% in dogs, cats, and rabbits, respectively. In humans, anesthetic-related deaths are much less common and account for 1 in every 100 000 to 200 000 general anesthesia patients.
The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) physical status measurement categorizes patients on a scale from ASA 1 (no detected abnormalities) to ASA 5 (not expected to survive 24 hours). Although not a risk assessment, this scale indicates the likelihood of a patient’s condition affecting anesthetic outcome. Other factors that may impact outcome include surgeon and anesthetist experience; availability of correct, fully checked anesthetic and surgical equipment; and correct use of checklists and emergency protocols.
It is always important to consider the expected benefits of a procedure in contrast to potential risks of anesthesia when discussing risks with owners and to recognize when referral to an anesthesiologist is warranted.—Self I