Anesthesia, To Fear or Not To Fear?


Debbie Figueroa, LVT, VTS

My name is Debbie Figueroa and I am the Lead Licensed Veterinary Nurse at Fairhaven Veterinary Hospital. I have
been a licensed veterinary nurse for 19 years and obtained my specialty board certification (VTS) in Canine/Feline practice. On a daily basis I am asked, “if this was your pet, would you place them under anesthesia”? The answer to that question is complex and must take into account each individual patient’s need and health status. Some items that are given consideration by the nurse:

  • Is there an underlying health issue? (kidney disease, heart disease or thyroid disease).
  • Is the patient on medication(s) that may affect the choice of anesthetic drugs that we use?
  • What is the temperament of the pet? (fearful, evasive, nervous).

The nursing staff (LVT’s) at Fairhaven Veterinary Hospital review all of the above  information prior to the patient’s surgery or dentistry, establishing an anesthetic protocol that is then reviewed by the Veterinarian performing the procedure. Once the anesthetic protocol has been established and the patient is anesthetized, the primary focus of the nursing staff  is monitoring of the anesthetized patient. The nurse is continually checking the patient’s blood pressure, adjusting the IV fluid rate based on the blood pressure readings, adjusting the gas anesthetic rate based on patient assessment throughout the surgical procedure, checking the temperature, and calculating/administering constant rate infusions (CRI) for optimum pain control as needed. In short, the nursing team is integral in making patient specific anesthetic adjustments secondary to this dedicated and extensive real-time monitoring. The nursing staff utilizes an anesthetic log to record all the drug information, route of administration, how the drugs affected the patient, all the monitoring parameters and how the patient recovered from the anesthesia. This becomes a permanent part of the patient’s medical record and a valuable resource for any future anesthetic procedure, whether performed at our hospital or elsewhere. Knowing that Fairhaven Veterinary Hospital has these safety protocols in place to make anesthesia as safe as possible for each patient, my reply would be, “yes, I would place my pet under anesthesia”.