FAQ Pet Owners Have About Animal Anesthesia

Posted on: 3 December 2021


If you have a pet, it is only a matter of time before you have to take them to the vet to have some sort of illness or injury treated. When you do, there is a chance your pet will need to be put under anesthesia. Having the pet you love put under can be a little scary, but you won't be nearly as scared if you understand what's happening. Review the following questions and answers about animal anesthesia, and you'll be better prepared when your pet needs this care.

Do pets always sleep when they're given anesthesia?

Not necessarily. There are three types of anesthesia vets can use. The one most people think of first is general anesthesia, which does involve your pet going to sleep. This is used for most surgeries. If your pet needs a less invasive procedure, such as to have a superficial growth removed, the vet may instead administer local anesthesia, which just numbs the area to be treated. Or, they might administer a regional anesthetic, which numbs a larger area around the body part. For example, a regional anesthetic may numb your pet's entire hindquarters. A local might numb just their paw.

Can your pet eat before being given anesthesia?

If your pet is due to undergo general anesthesia, then your vet will likely want them to fast for at least 12 hours. This helps reduce the risk of them vomiting while under the anesthetic. Fasting is not usually required if your pet undergoes a local or regional anesthetic treatment.

Is it possible your pet won't wake up from general anesthesia?

Technically, it is possible, but this is very rare. Vets are incredibly careful to give your pet the appropriate dose of an anesthetic so that they wake up and recover properly. When a pet does not recover after surgery, it is often because the surgery itself was a last-ditch, lifesaving attempt that was not as successful as you'd hope. It's not usually the anesthesia that's to blame.

When can your pet come home?

After a minor procedure with local or regional anesthetic, a pet can usually go home after a brief period of observation. Following procedures done under general anesthesia, your vet will often want to keep your pet overnight to make sure they wake up and recover properly. Still, the observation period usually has more to do with the surgery itself than with the anesthesia.

Hopefully knowing the answers to the questions above will help you out when your pet needs anesthesia. Talk to your vet to learn more.