Every OATP at AHBC includes the following essential procedures.

Pre-operative lab work ensures your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia and possibly dental surgery. It is rare, but pets, even puppies and kittens, can have organ abnormalities that make anesthesia or certain medications risky. We must run a comprehensive blood work panel within 30 days prior to an OATP. We can perform blood work on the same day as an OATP.

If your pet’s lab work is ever concerning, we will call you immediately to discuss our recommendations.

A pre-operative physical exam on the day of the OATP will check your pet’s weight, vital signs, heart and lungs, gum color, and hydration status.

Pre-operative pain medication to control any discomfort: Probing and cleaning teeth can result in post-op discomfort even if extractions are not necessary. Pre-op pain medication, injected quickly and painlessly under the skin, also helps calm your pet for IV catheter placement.

Placement of an IV catheter after careful preparation: We carefully shave and scrub a small patch on your pet’s front leg, then apply numbing gel to ensure your pet’s IV catheter placement is fear- and pain-free.

Why place an IV catheter for an OATP? Many hospitals do not. We believe it is essential. An IV catheter offers us the safest, easiest access to a vein to administer the initial anesthesia drug and other medications—including life-saving medications should they become necessary.

Anesthesia always carries a certain degree of risk. That’s why we practice the best medicine.

An IV catheter also allows your pet to be on continuous IV fluids during the OATP. Administering IV fluids prevents low blood pressure and dehydration, which can result in organ failure. We warm the IV fluids with special equipment to prevent low body temperature.

Jennifer and Sarah pre-oxygenate Serge before his OATP.

The safest anesthesia protocols and drugs available: After the IV catheter is placed, we “pre-oxygenate” your pet for 3 minutes. We gently administer pure oxygen, via a mask, to fill your pet’s lungs and prepare him or her for anesthesia and the OATP.

Then we inject, via the IV catheter, the safest initial anesthesia drug available calculated to your pet’s exact weight. At this point, your pet is “under”—and a trained vet nurse will be monitoring him or her the entire time.

Using a trachea tube is just one way we make anesthesia as safe as possible.

After we administer the initial anesthesia drug, we “intubate” all OATP patients, which means we carefully insert a tube into the trachea (through the throat). This tube protects the airway and creates a seal that prevents water and bacteria from entering the lungs and causing infection. The trachea tube also carries both pure oxygen and gas anesthesia. Gas anesthesia is the safest form.

Constant monitoring on state-of-the-art equipment: At AHBC, we do something special. We designate a skilled vet nurse to monitor your pet’s vital signs, blood pressure, oxygen level, and heart activity the entire time your pet is under anesthesia. We actually stand over your pet with a stethoscope! Plus we use a comprehensive monitoring machine, and record every single entry every 5 minutes.

Our level of attention to anesthesia monitoring is somewhat rare in the vet world. At Animal Hospital at Brier Creek, we know this is the only way to make anesthesia as safe as possible. Learn more about our anesthesia monitoring.

Whole-body warming devices: In addition to warm IV fluids, we put a warming pad under your pet and a warm water blanket—plus a plush towel—on top of your pet during the entire OATP. Low body temperature during anesthesia makes metabolism of medications difficult.

IV antibiotics: IV antibiotics prevent any present oral infection from being spread through the bloodstream to your pet’s heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys.

The next page of this article details the steps of assessment, treatment, and prevention—as well as our crucial post-operative care and discharge procedures.