Being with your pet when they awaken from anesthetic

This forum is for dog lovers seeking everyday advice and suggestions on health-related issues. Remember, however, that advice on a public forum simply can't be a substitute for proper medical attention. Only your vet can say assuredly what is best for your dog.

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I don't walk, I- prance!
Barked: Wed Apr 28, '10 10:48am PST 
I'm with Sanka on this, When my friend woke up from surgery after a car accident he freaked out when he awoke, grabbing everything, trying to rip out his IV and just yelling bloody murder and they had to restrain him, because he was so confused, but strangely he does not remember that at all! Crazy shrug I wasn't there to witness that, the nurses told us.
Most of the time we know we are going in for surgery but just think of how a pet feels, he gets dropped of in a strange place and awakes in a crate alone, in pain with unfamiliar smells, I would freak out myself if that happend to me!

Barked: Wed Apr 28, '10 12:25pm PST 
I am reading this thread with great interest as I am having my papillon puppy spayed tomorrow. My vet did three of my other dogs (shelties) in years past and I was in the surgery with them and held them in the recovery area. All three never exhibited any aggression, screaming, crying etc. They were all very calm coming around. However today one of techs wanted me to know that training wise it is not best to be holding them when they awake because of trust issues...going both ways. Has anyone ever heard of this? My three other dogs never had any trust issues with me nor I of them after they came out of surgery and I was holding them. I am probably going to be with her as they put her under and when she comes out. Maybe I have just been lucky with 3 of my babies....I just can't think of not being there for her when she wakes up.
Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
Barked: Wed Apr 28, '10 2:25pm PST 
I don't see where it would have any long-term trust issue problems. I could see where the dog may for a little bit connect you with feeling ill or being in pain. But that's a loooong stretch. And even if it did happen, the dog would come around soon enough, unless you're putting them under the knife every day.

If you've never had any problems with your previous dogs, and you want to be there with your dog, then I don't see any problem with that. It really is a personal choice. If you aren't there, the dog is not going to hold a grudge against you. And if you are there, I honestly don't think it makes that big of a difference to the dog. It all just comes down to personal choice. I don't see any harm in any choice so long as you are prepaired for what you may see or for what you may not see.


The ledgend- lives on.
Barked: Wed Apr 28, '10 4:02pm PST 
Definitely a no.

I am a technician, and wake up animals often -- but have also woken up my own dogs on numerous occasions from anesthesia.

It makes NO difference (in my opinion) who is waking them up, or at least from what I see with my dogs. They are going to be completely disoriented no matter what -- and not care who is there. Zeus was a howler -- major howler -- coming out of surgery. He practically echoed through the entire clinic the WHOLE DAY. It was also hard to keep the big lug on the stretcher on the way back to recovery as he woke up disoriented and confused. Some dogs can wake up incredibly rough (going "from zero to sixty" in no-time) or be quite vocal and swimming with their paws.

From my point of view, there is no place for an already worried owner in waking up a pet from surgery. I totally get that owners want to be there for their pets and comfort them -- but believe stress breeds stress, and can prevent the staff from doing their job as it should be done -- for the benefit of the pet -- with more bodies in their way and the added pressure of having an owner looking over their shoulder.

ETA: The way an animal wakes up does depend on what kind of cocktail is used as an anesthetic and/or as a pre-anesthetic injection, also! wink

Edited by author Wed Apr 28, '10 4:13pm PST

Samuel Jacob- (4/1/97-4/4/- 08)

We had seasons- in the sun......

Barked: Wed Apr 28, '10 5:34pm PST 
See now this makes me wonder if the "waking up" could have been what caused Sammy's complication after his first hip replacement.thinking
If he had struggled or tried to jump up, that would have done it.
I was given photos of him coming out of it, and they had him in a "bear hug" hot air blanket. He looked snuggly and comfy.cloud 9
These stories make me less inclined to let my dogs have surgery at all now. Guess sometimes its better to just not know.frownsilenced

Barked: Thu Apr 29, '10 5:35am PST 
The clinic that spayed Bella has a camera mounted in the recovery room...I've watched dozens of dogs being massaged and petted when coming out of anesthesia >it's how they do it.
I even watched my Bella waking up > it was comforting to see way to go
Here's a link to the clinic if anyone wants to see it for themselves.
Click on "VIEW or WEBCAM" >it's only on during surgery days.

Edited by author Thu Apr 29, '10 5:38am PST

Tucker, CGC,- TDI

Bloggin' Dog
Barked: Thu Apr 29, '10 6:53am PST 
I realize I'm a bit late weighing in ... and I guess for whatever it's worth I sort of straddle both sides of the line on this one. I used to work for a vet, so not only was I often charged with supervising other people's animals coming out of anesthesia, I also was always there not just for the waking up but was also actually in-surgery when any of my animals were spayed, etc. The first of my animals that I was not in there for the surgery or the wake up was Olivia, my now six year old domestic shorthaired cat. When I went to pick her up late that afternoon, I was quite taken aback at how she was behaving - her eyes were wild and she was doing this extremely eerie, feral-sounding growl low in her throat. It took her until after midnight that night to really seem at all "with it" and it was a good two weeks before she acted normal again. Would things have been different had I been permitted to be there to stroke and talk to and comfort her as she came to consciousness? I don't really know. When Tanner, my four year old cat, was neutered, he was totally fine when I picked him up, his normal self, didn't skip a beat. Then again, a spay is a lot more involved of a surgery than a neuter, and Olivia has always been a bit more of a "finely tuned instrument" than Tanner is. She is considerably more confident, yet also much more highly strung and sensitive. So who knows how things might or might not have played out had I requested and/or been permitted to be there as she woke up.

Tucker & Phoebe I adopted from a shelter and a rescue group respectively, and they were already neutered & spayed and have fortunately not needed any surgical procedures since then. However, tomorrow Tucker is having a dental cleaning, and possible extraction of a couple of teeth we've been watching for awhile that we don't like how they're looking. I will not be in the surgery, but I will be there when he comes out of anesthesia. Hopefully he comes out smoothly & easily, but if he doesn't, I'll be prepared. From having seen who knows how many dogs & cats come out of anesthesia, I am aware that they often, as Zeus said, "wake up rough." I know he may thrash and howl, whimper, cry, etc. and am confident in my ability to remain calm, not add to any stress he may be feeling, and stay out of the staff's way. I have this confidence becaus of the numerous animals, including several of my own, that I have watched coming out of from under anesthetic. Once I know he's safely out, I'll head back to my office to get some work done before going back later that afternoon & picking him up, leaving him to be monitored by the staff.

At the very least, if your vet will permit you to be there when your dog comes out of anesthesia, and if you think you want to be there, it certainly would be a good idea to watch at least one or two other animals coming out of anesthesia, even on closed circuit TV, before watching your own.
Leah, CGC

All the Beauty- with none of the- Brains
Barked: Thu Apr 29, '10 9:19am PST 
I am also a little late but would like to bring up a point...

Some people have touched on the fact that the sedation/anesthetic is an imporatant factor in how the pet recovers. This is really really true and great strides have been made especially in the last 10 years in using less "freaky"meds and also controlling a pets pain before, during and after surgery.

BUT---Everyone and Everycase is different and since you won't be able to 100% predict how your pet wakes wouldn't you want to allow the professionals to do what they do best and have an unincumbered access to providing the proper care for your pet?? I would.

Also to note -- It makes a huge difference if the surgery is elective or not. Spays and Neuters are elective surgery. They are planned in advance and you are starting with a healthy animal or you reschedule. If something doesn't look right on their bloodwork again you reschedule. This makes the sedation/anesthetic drug options greater and allows for proper dosing and induction of anesthesia by the tech and vet.
HOWEVER - In emergency situations like HBC, GDV, Blocked Kitty, hemoabdomen etc you don't have the ability to reschedule and even if the bloodworks not 100% or the animal is dehydrated or proper pain control has not be achevied prior to anesthesia it may be necessary to do the surgery anyway. This type of situation I believe breeds the more intense wake ups. Often you must go with a lighter anesthetic pain in order to keep blood pressure and respirations high enough to maintain life which IMO can lead to quicker wake ups which then often leads to more vocalizing and "freaked out" behavior by that patient.

I think that in planned/elective surgeries being there for you pet may be something to consider but keep in mind that all your worrying will add stress for not only your pet but also the staff who you have entrusted their care too.

I don't neccessary think it is wrong for an owner to hold their pet minutes after waking up but prior to extubation (IE when the tube is still in their throat) it is not a safe practice to let anyone who cannot monitor or provide care for a semi-conscious animal into the area. They could potentially distract or block someone from giving the immediate life saving care that is required in case of emergency. If you are not a trained tech or vet why would you put yourselves in the way of their care in case of emergency??

Actual extubation of an animal can be gross! And watching your animal lay unresponsive or wailing or even small whimpering is hard on any owner be they tech or not. Where there have been documented cases of anesthesia/sedation aggression they are often few and far between now that our understandings of these medications has improved but again every case is different and if your pet has never been under anesthesia we won't know until we use them how they will affect YOUR dog we just now how they affect the average dog.

Most bite injuries reported in animal hospitals occuring during treatment or restraint but the next one is during recovery from sedation and anesthetic. It is on the hospitals insurance if you are injured on their property even if your dog bites you. Also in most counties/states ALL bites on vet property need to be reported to the local animal law enforcement. This is alot of information that needs to be filed and leaves the animal hospital open for litigation if any.

I hope this helps some people understand the reasons why this may or may not be a good idea for your pet and you.

Barked: Thu Apr 29, '10 11:07am PST 
When Artan was neutered I was told to bring him home immediately after. He literally came outside the operation room and straight to me. When he woke up I was the first thing he saw and he tried really hard to walk to me. Once he was on my lap he was fine, just occasionally unbalanced but then he drifted off to sleep on our way home. By the next day he was perfectly back to normal! Maybe he was one of the lucky ones who don't react after surgery?

Daddy's Princess
Barked: Thu Apr 29, '10 3:45pm PST 
Most vet practices will not allow an owner to be with a patient while recovering from anesthesia unless they're a tech or another veterinarian. Mostly because if the owner gets bit, they're responsible.
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