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Dog and Cat Anesthesia Myths Part 3

Reviewed by Bill Saxon DVM, DACVIM, DACVECC on Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Posted April 30, 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 I wrap up our review of anesthesia myths. I’ve already discussed seven common urban legends that veterinarians hear regularly from concerned pet owners (See Part 1 and Part 2). Now let’s investigate whether pets should be groggy after anesthesia, how often we can anesthetize a pet and whether anesthesia is just a formality.
8. My pet will be groggy for days after having anesthesia
This concern is more often false than true. Sure, every pet, like every human, handles anesthesia differently. Even if two patients are given the same anesthesia drugs and undergo the same procedure, one may recover very quickly and act like nothing ever happened while the other may recover slowly and still seem a little groggy for a day or two.

If your pet seems groggy a few days after a procedure, it is important to let your veterinarian know; your vet can look up records to see what drugs were used and adjust accordingly with alternate drugs or lower dosages.
A sleepy pet may be a sign of an underlying condition. However, in most cases, pets are not really groggy from the anesthesia; rather they’re groggy from their pain medications, which can sometimes cause sedation. Most modern anesthesia drugs are processed by the body within minutes to hours. Again, please double check with your veterinarian.

9.  You can't anesthetize a pet often
Many pet owners think that their dog or cat cannot be placed under anesthesia repeatedly in a short span of time. While ideally your pets would not need frequent anesthesia, here are examples of times when they may:

  • When pets get radiation therapy to treat cancer, their position has to be exactly the same to irradiate the tumor in the same manner every time. Since pets won’t hold still long enough, this means they have to be anesthetized for every session. The “standard” protocol is to put them under anesthesia 5 days a week for 4 weeks.  That’s 20 anesthesia episodes within one month. And most do very well, even though many of these cancer patients are very sick already.
  • A more common situation might

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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