Practice Protocols


Anaesthesia at ‘The Vets’

We pride ourselves on our anaesthetic protocols here at The Vets and would like to share with you how we care for each of your pets and go the extra mile…


Anaesthesia is an area of great importance to us at The Vets and in addition to being qualified veterinary nurses, each of us undertook a three week ‘Anaesthetic Monitoring’ CPD (Continued Professional Development) course in January 2017 and all passed with flying colours.

Pre-operative period

Each pet is accurately weighed on the morning of the procedure and examined by a veterinary surgeon. The patients pulse rate, respiratory rate and temperature are measured on arrival to the practice. Each pet’s health, the type of procedure and the length of the procedure are all factors that are considered when planning the anaesthetic protocol. All anaesthetic equipment is checked for faults prior to use for each patient. All equipment that might be needed is set up prior to the start of each procedure, to ensure that the anaesthetic time is kept to a minimum.

Pre-anaesthetic period

If patients are calm and relaxed, an intravenous (IV) catheter is placed into a vein in the front leg, which will remain in situ for the day. This allows for the administration of medications, fluids and also plays an important role for immediate access in an emergency situation. If the patient is anxious in any way, we will give a pre-medication injection under the skin before placing the IV catheter. The pre-medication relaxes the pet and ensures that they are happy and comfortable whilst they are in hospital. Following the administration of the pre-medication, each pet is monitored closely and covered in a soft blanket to maintain their temperature. Our kennel room has lovely under floor heating, which keeps our patients warm and cosy. We use heated mats for small animals in the top kennels.

Induction period

Anaesthesia is started in a clam and quiet environment. We ensure all staff know that this event is happening to ensure the process is as smooth as possible. An endotracheal tube is placed into the patients windpipe and a cuff is inflated to ensure the airway is protected during anaesthesia. Monitoring equipment that will be used during the anaesthetic is attached at this point, if not before.

Maintenance period

Anaesthesia is maintained by an inhalant agent using Humphrey ADE anaesthetic circuits. These circuits are precisely calibrated and as a result they are also frequently used within human hospitals. A multi-parameter monitor is used on each patient and enables us to monitor pulse oximetry, capnography, ECG, oscilometric blood pressure and a core temperature probe. Please see the photo of the monitor for an explanation of these readings. We use this equipment to assist us in monitoring each patient’s heart rate and rhythm, respiratory rate and effort, oxygen saturation of the blood and blood pressure. We systematically monitor these values, recording them every 5 minutes. In addition to this we check the position of the eye, the colour of the mucous membranes (gums), the capillary refill time and the presence of jaw tone and blink reflexes. By assessing all the parameters and monitoring the trends we are able to maintain the correct level of anaesthesia, ensuring that the patient does not go too deep, nor is too light. This also enables problems to be detected immediately.

Recovery period

Patients continue to be monitored until they are fully awake. Efforts to maintain core temperature are continued until the patient is fully recovered, for example using the fluid warmer, bubble wrap, blankets and heat pads. As soon as each patient is awake enough they are offered a small meal of an easily digestible diet and dogs are taken outside for a potter in the garden. The IV catheter is kept in until patients are fully awake, as well as a drip, if one is used. Cuddles and fuss also play a vital role in the recovery period.


If at any point you have any questions about the anaesthestic protocols and monitoring at The Vets, or would like to have a guided tour of the hospital and ward, please don’t hesitate to call us.

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