to Pet Health Network or

Answers from vets about your dog:

Dog and Cat Anesthesia Myths Part 2

Reviewed by Bill Saxon DVM, DACVIM, DACVECC on Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Posted April 24, 2014 in Dog Surgery A-Z

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. His website is He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” (

Kelly Serfas, a Certified Veterinary Technician in Bethlehem, PA, contributed to this article.

In this blog we continue to find out the truth about anesthesia and debunk the wrong ideas pet owners may have. Check here for a look back at a part 1. In part 2, I discuss whether a pet can be too young, too old or too sick to undergo anesthesia.
5. My pet is too young for anesthesia
Young patients do present the veterinarian and their staff with a bit more of a challenge compared to adults.  Pediatric pets are typically smaller and more sensitive, so they need anesthesia techniques and protocols to be tailored for them.Cat under anesthesia For example, because of their (usually) smaller size, they lose heat quicker so their temperature has to be closely monitored and specific techniques should be used to keep them warm.

Young patients also have fewer energy reserves than adults.  This is the reason why your veterinarian may recommend a small meal the morning of anesthesia, whereas adults should be completely fasted overnight.

Youth is not a reason to avoid anesthesia; however, your veterinarian should make sure pediatric patients are kept warm, vital signs are closely monitored and anesthetic drugs are chosen wisely.

6. My pet is too old for anesthesia
This is another big misconception. Old age is basically never a reason not to perform a surgical or medical procedure. Sure, it may be an issue in the owner’s mind, but rarely in the veterinarian’s opinion.

Thanks to the advances in veterinary medicine, pets enjoy longer lives now than ever before.  Although, like humans, As pets age their bodies change—resulting in a slower metabolism, greater sensitivity to medications and slower healing time.

Geriatric patients often do need some additional pre-anesthesia screening including blood work, chest radiographs (to ensure their lungs are free of disease or cancer) and an EKG to confirm they do not have any major heart problems. Once their overall health status has been assessed, the veterinarian can decide on any pre-anesthesia supportive care or medications. Anesthesia drugs should then be chosen to minimize side-effects for geriatric pets based on their specific condition.

My philosophy is simple: age is not a disease! Cancer

Share This Article

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and author. His traveling practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his website at, and follow him at