Magnolia House Veterinary Clinic

103 Staveley Gardens
Chiswick, GB W4 2SE



Many procedures in dogs and cats require sedation or general anaesthesia in order to be performed safely and painlessly. As pet owners, we understand that this can cause you some worry and concern - under the guidance of  Dalya Livy, who holds an advanced qualification in Veterinary Anaesthesia, we make sure all our sedative and anaesthetic protocols are as safe for your pet as they can possibly be.

To see how we make your pet's anaesthesia safer, please scroll to the bottom of the page!

What causes anaesthetic risk?

Every sedative and anaesthetic carries a risk, because they:

  • decrease the body's breathing efforts (decreased breathing rate and shallower breaths)
  • decrease body temperature
  • most sedatives and anaesthetics decrease heart function 
  • most sedatives and anaesthetics decrease blood pressure         

Every drug is different in terms of how much of each of the above issues it causes, and most of the issues depend on the dose of the drug - the more of the sedative/anaesthetic drug we give, the greater the above effects. This is one of the reasons why we often combine smaller doses of 2 or more different drugs in order to sedate or anaesthetise a patient, rather than giving a large dose of just one drug.

Some dogs and cats, just like people, can have an allergic reaction to a sedative or anaesthetic. There is no way to know that this will happen, and no way to prevent it. Also, some dogs and cats can have an unexplained fatal reaction to a sedative or anaesthetic - again, there is no way to know or prevent this. These reactions are luckily very rare.

Which pets have an increased anaesthetic risk?

Dogs and cats who may be at increased risk include:

- puppies and kittens less than 12 weeks of age (as their liver and kidney function has not fully matured yet)

- certain breeds, e.g. British Bulldogs, Boxers, Dobermans, Great Danes

- overweight and obese pets

- pets with heart disease or heart murmurs

- pets with kidney or liver disease

- pets with uncontrolled seizures

- pets with breathing problems

- pets with any significant disease (e.g. hyperthyroidism, pancreatitis, bowel problems)

- critically ill pets (e.g. dogs with bloat, internal bleeding, low protein levels, anaemia)

- pets who have recently undergone a big trauma (e.g. hit by a car, fell from a height)

We shall always fully discuss any risks to your pet prior to the sedative or anaesthetic procedure (including breed related risks), and ways to minimise or prevent those risks. 

How do we make your pet's anaesthesia safer?

- we perform a thorough physical exam prior to every anaesthetic or sedation procedure so any obvious problems are detected before we start

- we aim to minimise stress to your pet on the day by gentle handling, quiet and comfortable kennels, and separating dogs from cats whenever possible

- we place an intravenous catheter in every patient undergoing sedation or anaesthesia - this allows us to start off with small amounts of the sedative/anaesthetic and top it up until it's just enough (instead of giving one large dose), it also allows us to provide intravenous fluids to support blood pressure, and gives us immediate access for life-saving medication in case of emergency

- during sedation and anaesthesia, all of body's muscles become relaxed which leads to slowing down of the breathing rate and decreased depth of each breath and results in your pet getting less oxygen - this can cause problems, especially for the brain, heart, kidneys and liver. We provide extra oxygen via face mask for sedated patients, and via endotracheal tube (placed in the windpipe) for anaesthetised patients to make sure they always have enough oxygen.

- we offer pre-anaesthetic blood testing to check liver and kidney function, blood sugar and protein levels, and make sure the pet is not anaemic - the test is available for every pet undergoing sedation or anaesthesia, but we would especially recommend it in all middle aged and older animals, all unwell patients (a more comprehensive blood screen may be advised) and in certain breeds (for more information see our pre-operative guidelines) 

- one anaesthetic protocol does not fit every patient - we carefully select different sedative and anaesthetic drugs best suited to the individual pet

- we are very proactive when it comes to pain relief, and all surgical patients get their first dose before they are anaesthetised (so the pain killers are in the system before the procedure starts). We continue providing pain relief throughout the procedure and post-operatively, and this results in less stress to your pet during recovery, and better pain control in the post-operative period.

- every sedated and anaesthetised pet is closely monitored by a dedicated nurse throughout the procedure until they are fully recovered

- we provide heating support during all procedures, ensuring your pet's body temperature stays as normal as possible, which minimises risk during sedation/anaesthesia, and helps recovery

- we closely monitor vital signs throughout the procedure - breathing rate, heart rate, gum colour, temperature, blood oxygen levels, and blood pressure 

- in anaesthetised patients, in addition to the above, we also monitor heart rhythm (via ECG), and carbon dioxide levels 

- the vital sign monitoring allows us to detect any problems early on, and gives us time to correct those problems

- we recommend intravenous fluids (during all but the quickest procedures) for blood pressure support - fluids are an extremely important safety measure for all older or unwell patients, but most patients undergoing general anaesthesia would benefit from having fluids on board

- we stock a wide range of medications and fluid types which can help should a complication or an emergency arise 

- in the event of difficulties we have a ventilator that will breathe for your pet