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Animal anaesthesia Dogs

  • Dog
  • Anaesthesia
  • Surgery

Anaesthesia means physical anaesthesia to make the nervous system as insensitive as possible to stimuli and pain. In veterinary medicine, as in human medicine, different forms of anaesthesia (animal anaesthesia) and sedation are distinguished.


Sedation describes the damping down of central nervous system functions by a sedative medication. The borderline between sedation and general anaesthesia is fluid and depends largely on the dose given. A different dose of the medication can be required for anaesthesia for a dog. Depending on the sedative used, sedation can also be a major burden for the heart and circulation. Sedation influences the cardiovascular system, so intubation and a venous line make sense.

General anaesthesia

General anaesthesia is a reversible state resembling deep sleep, in which consciousness is switched off and pain perception is suppressed. The vital functions of breathing and circulation are maintained. Anaesthesia is essential in nearly all surgical procedures to protect the dog from pain. This condition is maintained throughout the procedure by giving anaesthetic and pain-relieving medications. Your pet cannot be awakened by strong stimuli either, for example, by a surgical incision through the skin. An anaesthetist monitors and controls your pet‘s body functions and sleep state throughout the operation. The most important vital functions are monitored continuously and recorded to ensure the greatest possible safety for your pet. In addition, the veterinary surgeon can intervene directly and so, for example, give your dog regulatory medications during the anaesthesia.

Following an injection of a pain-relieving drug and sedative, anaesthesia is usually induced with a fast-acting anaesthetic drug and then continued in various ways:

  • By continuous administration of anaesthetic and pain-relieving drugs through a vein (intravenous veterinary anaesthesia)
  • By continuous administration of a pain-relieving drug through the vein und an anaesthetic drug via the airways (inhalation anaesthesia)

As soon as the dog is asleep, various methods are used to secure the airway:

  • Intubation anaesthesia: a breathing tube is introduced through the mouth into the windpipe and sealed against the windpipe by an inflatable cuff
  • Mask anaesthesia: oxygen and anaesthetic gas are delivered to your pet through a ventilation mask
  • Laryngeal mask: this mask is inserted through the mouth into the throat and sits over the entrance to the windpipe in the region of the larynx.

Small dogs are monitored in the recovery room after the anaesthetic until they are sufficiently awake and all their body functions are stable. Occasionally, monitoring and care in an intensive care unit can be required. Your small dog is given enough intravenous fluid and pain relief after the anaesthetic and is kept warm.

Local anaesthesia

Various local anaesthetic techniques are used to spare systemic anaesthetics and nevertheless suppress all pain. This protects the circulation. Since there are very different options, every anaesthetic is adapted individually to the animal (cat anaesthesia, dog anaesthesia etc.) and the operation and therefore differs greatly.

What are the after-effects of veterinary anaesthesia?

Despite all the safety offered by modern veterinary anaesthetic techniques, an operation under anaesthetic nevertheless represents a substantial stress for the body and an anaesthetic risk persists for the animal. The residual risk can be reduced further by targeted control of veterinary anaesthesia and extended anaesthetic monitoring.

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