Alleviating the drama of anesthetic episodes in geriatric veterinary patients

March 13, 2019

What special considerations must be considered in older pets?

A common objection from clients to their geriatric pets going under general anesthesia is simply that they're too old to take it. But, as Fetch dvm360 conference speaker Mike Barletta, DVM, MS, PhD, DACVAA, says, "age is not a disease." That said, these patients do require extra attention as outlined here.

Screen patients

Older pets are more likely to have certain illnesses, so it's important to be certain that you're not dealing with more than you've bargained for.

"They can have metabolic or other diseases that are more common with patients that are geriatric," Dr. Barletta says.

He recommends a comprehensive physical examination and blood work.

Run preoperative diagnostics

Dr. Barletta suggests you complete other tests before putting the patient under, such as radiographs or a thyroid panel in a senior cat.

More anesthesia resources

Common anesthesia considerations in pets with endocrine disease.

The finer points: Injecting common sense into your regional anesthesia strategy.

Sweet dreams: Anesthesia for the diabetic patient.

Choose drugs wisely

Select the anesthesia drug you're going to use carefully with consideration of its overall impact, he advises.

"Some drugs cause a lot of cardiovascular compromise, like alpha2s," Dr. Barletta says.

Give a low dose or simply avoid this medication.

Be patient

Dr. Barletta warns to exercise patience when dealing with these pets. Are they arthritic? Do they have hearing loss? There could be any combination of factors contributing to their slow recovery.

Watch the video for more.

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