Common Veterinary Anesthetic Medications Chart

DISCLAIMER: These are COMMON medications/adverse reactions to veterinary anesthetic medications, just like humans, pets also can have a variety of symptoms/reactions that are not listed or documented.

If you have any questions or concerns always speak to your veterinarian about the kinds of medications utilized and the potential side effects that may occur.

Anesthetic/Analgesic DrugCommon Adverse Effects
Dexmedetomidine Medetomidine XylazineBradycardiaCardiac Output ReductionHypertension/HypotensionVasoconstriction
NSAIDs SteroidsBleeding DisorderDiarrhea/VomitingGastrointestinal UlcerationLethargyRenal/Liver Failure
Diazepam MidazolamMinimal Cardiorespiratory EffectsParadoxical Excitement of Patients
Halothane Isofurane SevofuraneDecreased Cardiac OutputDecreased Myocardial Contractility Hypothermia/HyperthermiaMay result in hypotensionVasodilation
Diazepam/Ketamine Propofol Tiletamine/ZolazepamCyanosisOccasional Muscle Twitches/SeizuresProfuse Salivation/Airway SecretionsRespiratory Depression Transient TachycardiaVasodilation
Bupivacaine Lidocaine MepivacaineBradycardiaHyperthermia in some animals; hypothermia more likelyCardiac ArrestHypotensionSeizure
Buprenorphine Butorphanol Fentanyl Hydromorphone MorphineBradycardiaMydriasis/MiosisRespiratory Depression (hypoventilation, apnea)Vomiting

Why Isn’t My Cat Using Their Litterbox?

Housesoiling is one of the most common reasons cats are abandoned or surrendered to a shelter, which often leads to euthanasia. Cats don’t urinate and defecate all over their home out of spite, but rather because something is lacking. If your cat’s social, physical, or medical needs aren’t being met, housesoiling commonly is how she will indicate that something is wrong. But don’t despair if your home has become a giant litter box—many methods are available to treat, manage, and prevent inappropriate elimination.

What causes inappropriate elimination?

Your cat didn’t urinate on your new boyfriend’s sweatshirt because she’s jealous. Instead, she may be stressed that her home life has changed. Housesoiling is categorized as medical or behavioral—unfortunately, they often are closely intertwined, so differentiating between the two can be an extensive, frustrating process.

If your cat is inappropriately eliminating due to a medical condition, she may be suffering from one of the following:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Cystitis
  • Bladder stone
  • Constipation
  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer

Medical conditions are easier to resolve than behavioral issues, which may include:

  • Stress
  • Intercat aggression
  • Having an intact male or female cat in the home
  • Moved or new furniture
  • New family members or pets in your home
  • Perceived threats, such as stray or wild animals coming close to your home
  • Intact male or female cats marking their territory
  • A dirty litter box
  • Unhappiness with litter choice or type of litter box
  • Litter box location

Inappropriate elimination often has no single cause, which makes it difficult to accurately diagnose and manage.

Diagnosis of inappropriate elimination

Schedule an appointment with your AAHA-accredited veterinarian if your cat is eliminating inappropriately. Finding the root cause of housesoiling is challenging. First, all medical conditions must be ruled out before concluding that the reason is behavioral, which requires several diagnostic tests, including bloodwork, urinalysis, fecal examination, and potentially, X-rays and an ultrasound. If these tests are negative for medical conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, bacteria in the urine, intestinal parasites, bladder stones, or arthritis, your veterinarian will study your pet’s at-home behavioral history for environmental factors.

Stressful situations often lead cats to marking behavior, which is determined by these characteristics:

  • Spraying on vertical, upright surfaces
  • Targeting items that bring in new smells, such as suitcases, backpacks, and shoes
  • Spraying by windows and doors to indicate an outside threat
  • Spraying in hallways, doorways, or stairways to indicate an indoor stressor, such as new pets or people in the household, active children, or remodeling
  • Defecating in the litter box, but urinating outside the box
  • Urinating in the litter box only some of the time

Be aware that the diagnosis process can be lengthy and convoluted—the correct cause only can be established through trial and error.

How should I manage housesoiling?

Managing housesoiling can be as challenging as finding the cause, but don’t give up! There are many methods and a combination of treatments often is necessary. Depending on the root of the problem, you may need to try methods from each of the three categories of housesoiling management: medical, behavioral, and litter box-related.

  • Medical
    • Treat a urinary tract infection
    • Regulate diabetes or other metabolic or endocrine disorder
    • Manage kidney disease
    • Prevent arthritis pain
    • Calm bladder inflammation
    • Remove bladder stones
  • Behavioral
    • Ask about antianxiety medication
    • Investigate calming supplements
    • Use pheromones for intercat aggression or generalized anxiety
    • Block access to windows or doors if stray animals are nearby
    • Invest in environmental enrichment, such as cat towers, climbing trees, scratching posts, interactive toys, and food puzzles
    • Minimize drastic environmental changes
  • Litter box care
    • Change litter and litter box, and keep the litter box clean
    • Increase the number of litter boxes
    • Invest in a larger, shallower litter box
    • Change the litter box location
    • Retrain your cat to use the litter box
    • Clean messes thoroughly

Cats are extremely picky about litter and litter boxes. Create an attractive feline elimination station by:

  • Choosing fine, granular, sand-like clumping litter that is odor-free
  • Providing at least one litter box per household cat, plus one extra
  • Placing litter boxes in various locations and on different floors
  • Avoiding placing litter boxes in cramped corners, near noisy appliances, or in heavy-traffic areas
  • Keeping food and water dishes well away from litter boxes
  • Avoiding covered litter boxes, box liners, or strong-smelling cleaners
  • Ensuring litter boxes are large and shallow, ideally at least one-and-a-half times the length of your cat from nose to tail
  • Scooping litter daily and routinely cleaning the box with soap and water

Inappropriate elimination is one of the most common, frustrating problems to plague cat owners. Housesoiling can be an emergency if your cat has a urinary blockage or other medical condition. Contact your veterinarian at the first signs of inappropriate elimination and be patient through the diagnosis and management process to restore your bond with your beloved feline friend.

Bloodwork & Your Cat

Bloodwork is recommended yearly to monitor for any changes/potential concerns as well as prior to any surgeries or procedures requiring anesthesia! Talk to your veterinarian about having bloodwork completed on your pet or if you have any questions about having bloodwork ran on your pet!

GLUCOSE is a blood sugar.  Elevated levels can indicate diabetes mellitus, but in cats, mildly elevated levels can also just indicate stress.  Low levels can happen with insulin shock or malabsorption syndromes and can cause weakness, seizures, or death.

SERUM UREA NITROGEN (also known as Blood Urea Nitrogen) generally indicates kidney function.  An increased level is called azotemia, and can be caused by kidney, liver, and heart disease, urethral obstruction, shock, and dehydration.

SERUM CREATININE is a more specific indicator of kidney function in cats, although it can also be affected by dehydration and urethral obstruction.  An increased level without dehydration or urethral obstruction generally indicates kidney disease.

URIC ACID is a nonspecific value in cats, and does not indicate any disease processes.

ALT (Alanine aminotransferase) is a sensitive indicator of active liver damage but doesn’t indicate the cause.

TOTAL BILIRUBIN elevations may indicate liver or hemolytic (red blood cell destruction)disease.  This test helps identify bile duct problems in the liver and certain types of anemia. 

DIRECT BILIRUBIN elevations are another indication of liver disease and hemolysis.

ALKALINE PHOSPHATASE elevations may indicate liver damage or can also be a result of active bone growth in young kittens.  In adult cats, this is especially significant for liver damage.

AST (Asparate aminotransferase) increases are also very nonspecific, and can indicate liver, heart, or skeletal muscle damage.

INDIRECT BILIRUBIN is calculated using the total bilirubin and the direct bilirubin, and is not significant as a diagnostic test.

BUN/CREAT RATIO is calculated using the serum urea nitrogen and the serum creatinine.  In some cases, this result can help indicate if azotemia is from dehydration or kidney disease.

CHOLESTEROL is used to supplement diagnosis of hypothyroidism, liver disease, Cushing’s disease, and diabetes mellitus.  This is not a prognostic factor for heart disease such as in people.

TRIGLYCERIDES are not a significant value in cats.  They can be elevated if the cat has eaten recently, or in some disease processes, but are not a significant diagnostic factor.

CALCIUM deviations can indicate a variety of diseases.  Tumors, hyperparathyroidism, kidney disease, and low albumin are just a few of the conditions that alter serum calcium.

PHOSPHORUS elevations are often associated with significant kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and bleeding disorders.

SODIUM is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea, and kidney and Addison’s disease.  This test helps indicate hydration status.

POTASSIUM is an electrolyte lost with vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive urination. Decreased levels can be an early indicator of kidney insufficiency.  Increased levels may indicate Addison’s disease, dehydration and urethral obstruction. High levels can lead to cardiac arrest.

CHLORIDE is an electrolyte often lost with vomiting and Addison’s disease. Elevations often indicate dehydration.

SERUM PROTEIN indicates hydration status and provides additional information about the liver,kidneys, and infectious diseases.

SERUM ALBUMIN is a protein that helps evaluate hydration, hemorrhage, and intestinal, liver, and kidney disease.

GLOBULIN is calculated from serum total protein and serum albumin.  This is a blood protein that often increases with chronic inflammation and certain disease states.

OSMOLALITY CALCULATED is a calculated indicator of hydration status, and can help with interpretation of other blood values.

T4 (ANIMAL THYROXINE) is a thyroid hormone.  Decreased levels in cats do not signal hypothyroidism, rather, they can indicate an underlying disease process.  Elevated levels indicate hyperthyroidism.

Complete Blood Count (CBC)

WHITE BLOOD COUNT measures the body’s immune cells. Increases or decreases indicate certain diseases or infections.

RED BLOOD COUNT is the number of red blood cells per unit volume of blood.  Increases or decreases can indicate dehydration or anemia.

HEMOGLOBIN is the oxygen carrying pigment of red blood cells.  Increases or decreases in this number must be interpreted with other blood values.

HEMATOCRIT is probably the most important value of the red blood cells. This value measures the percentage of red blood cells in the blood to detect anemia, dehydration, and can help indicate some disease processes.

MCV (Mean cell volume) is the average red blood cell size. This value can help indicate some disease processes, but must be interpreted with other data.

MCH (Mean cell hemoglobin) is the average amount of hemoglobin per red blood cell.  This value can help indicate some disease processes, but must be interpreted with other data.

MCHC (Mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration) is another value for interpreting hemoglobin concentrations in cells.

RDW (Red blood cell distribution width) elevations can indicate that there is an increased variety in red blood cell sizes.  This value should be interpreted along with other red blood cell values.

PLATELET COUNT measures cells that are used in blood clotting.

NEUTROPHILS are a type of white blood cells of the immune system.  An elevation or decrease in absolute or total neutrophil counts can indicate a variety of processes including stress, inflammation, infection, or other disease processes.

LYMPHOCYTES are another type of white blood cells of the immune system.  An elevation or decrease in absolute or total lymphocyte counts can indicate a variety of processes including stress, inflammation, infection, or other disease processes.

MONOCYTES are a less common type of white blood cells of the immune system that can indicate stress or chronic inflammation.

EOSINOPHILS are a type of white blood cells of the immune system.  An elevation in absolute or total eosinophils can indicate allergy disorders, parasitism,and some skin and intestinal disorders.

BASOPHILS are a less common type of white blood cells of the immune system. Elevations in these can indicate allergy disorders, parasitism, and neoplastic states.

Questions for the Veterinarian

The ongoing concern for “CH” parents is that they are afraid to have their special needs pet go for any procedures as they are concerned about anesthesia.

Currently there is NO studies that confirm nor deny the use (or avoidance) or certain anesthetic medications but there are certain medications to be cautious about as their side effects could affect even a non-CH pet! Here is a list of questions below to ask your veterinarian/veterinary staff prior to your pet’s “big day” (feel free to customize this template as you see appropriate!):

[   ] Are you aware of and/or ever cared for a cerebellar hypoplasia patient?

[   ] Do you have any reservations in caring for a CH pet?

[   ] Are pre-anesthetic physical examinations & pre-surgical bloodwork required/completed?

[   ] Can I request that pre-anesthetic bloodwork be completed on my pet PRIOR to surgery/procedure?

[   ] Premedication(s) – What type(s) are utilized?

[   ] Do you intubate anesthetized patients (this ensures that their airways stay open & they receive enough oxygen)?

[   ] Are IV catheters utilized? May I request that an IV catheter is utilized for my pet?

[   ] Do you monitor body functions under anesthesia (HR/RR/BP/ETCO2, SPO2, Temp)?

[   ] Documentation of patient parameters during anesthesia/recovery (anesthesia record)

[   ] Continued patient support & monitoring in recovery (post-anesthesia)?

What is Veterinary Laser Therapy?

Content Courtesy of AVMA;AVMA.org

Veterinary laser therapy is an innovative treatment that has gained popularity in recent years as veterinarians discover its benefits for pets. Used similarly to acupuncture, massage therapy, and other alternative therapies, laser treatment can be used in conjunction with or in place of medication to manage pain, inflammation, and wound healing.

“Laser”—an acronym for “light amplification of stimulated emission of radiation”—refers to a unit that emits focused, penetrating light beams in three forms:

  • Monochromatic: Light that is a single wavelength (as opposed to natural light, which is emitted as a range of wavelengths)
  • Coherent: Photons (i.e., tiny particles of light or electromagnetic radiation) that travel in the same phase and direction
  • Collimated: Photons that travel in a single straight beam

Coherence and collimation give a laser penetrating power to a restricted area so that nearby tissues are unaffected.

Lasers are classified based on their wavelength and potential energy output, with four classes currently recognized:

  • Class 1 lasers, such as barcode scanners used in supermarkets, are used safely every day
  • Class 2 lasers, which include laser pointers and some therapeutic lasers, produce a beam in the visible spectrum (400–700 nanometers)
  • Class 3 lasers include the most commonly used therapeutic lasers
  • Class 4 lasers cause thermal injury to tissues and include surgical lasers used to cut and cauterize tissue during surgical procedures

How does laser therapy affect my pet’s tissue?

Therapeutic lasers use light waves of a specific wavelength to cause photobiomodulation, or the alteration of cellular and tissue physiology. Light absorbed by cellular components stimulates electrons and activates cells to promote growth, proliferation, migration, and repair.

The type and depth of tissue that responds to laser therapy depends on the wavelength of the light that is delivered. Most therapeutic lasers use red or near-infrared light, which has a wavelength of 600–1070 nanometers, although units with green, blue, and violet light, which have lower wavelengths, are becoming more popular. Laser beams of lower wavelengths are absorbed by superficial tissue, such as the skin, whereas beams of higher wavelengths penetrate deeper to muscles and bones.

Laser therapy helps tissue repair by causing the following:

  • Endorphin release
  • Vasodilation, which increases blood flow to bring in oxygen and cells involved in the healing process
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Faster healing and repair

The main clinical benefits of laser use in pets include decreased inflammation, decreased pain, and improved wound healing.

Who can benefit from laser therapy?

Laser therapy is used for many veterinary medical conditions, including:

  • Chronic arthritis
  • Surgical incisions
  • Tendon and ligament injuries
  • Traumatic injuries

Laser therapy is particularly useful for pets with limited medical treatment options, such as:

  • Pets with liver disease who cannot take medications
  • Cats, for whom only a few pain-control medications are approved
  • Exotic pets for whom medication administration is difficult or impossible
  • Older pets with diminished organ function

How are laser treatments administered?

During a treatment session, the handheld laser wand is slowly moved back and forth over the damaged tissue, producing a warm, pleasant sensation that most pets seem to enjoy and find relaxing. Sessions usually last 15 to 30 minutes, with the number of sessions and frequency of treatments dependent on the injury. Chronic conditions may be treated weekly, whereas surgical incisions and open wounds often require daily treatment. 

Is laser therapy safe for pets?

Laser therapy is safe if performed correctly, using the proper settings and treatment durations. Higher-powered units can cause thermal burns to tissues if used incorrectly. Also, laser beams directed at an eye can cause permanent retinal damage, so patients and all veterinary staff must wear protective goggles during treatment.

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Why Are Regular Veterinary Visits So Important?!

Content Courtesy of AVMA; AVMA.org

Routine veterinary visits help your pet live a long, healthy, and happy life. Annual or biannual exams nip emerging health problems in the bud and are key to extending your pet’s time by your side. Early detection and intervention allows your veterinary team to treat a disease in the beginning stages, and then manage the condition with medication or simple lifestyle changes. Your veterinarian also can give you pointers that will help your pet live her healthiest life and stave off potential medical conditions.

What is your veterinarian looking for during an exam?

The physical exam your veterinarian performs may seem like nothing more than a thorough petting, but it reveals a wealth of information. Here’s what your veterinarian is checking when she examines your furry friend:

  • Ears — Ear infections are common in both cats and dogs. Cats often present with ear mites, while dogs routinely display yeast or bacterial infections, but all can cause infection in either species. Left untreated, ear infections can progress to painful, inflamed, thickened ears, making future cleaning and treatment difficult. Your veterinarian also will look for any masses or polyps that need to be removed.
  • Eyes — Eye issues abound in flat-faced breeds, such as bulldogs, pugs, and Persians, and several other breeds. Flat-faced pets easily can develop corneal ulcers if their protruding eyes are scratched, schnauzers frequently form cataracts, and cocker spaniels routinely suffer from dry eyes. If your pet develops glaucoma that is left unchecked, she will suffer with severe eye pain from the increased pressure as well as potential vision loss, and surgical removal will be necessary.
  • Mouth — Dental health affects your pet’s entire body, and the veterinarian will look for signs of gingivitis, loose teeth, tartar accumulation, and oral masses. A dirty mouth can harm her heart, kidneys, and other organs because of traveling oral bacteria.
  • Skin — Dry, itchy skin and hair loss can indicate a variety of health issues, including mange, allergies, skin infections, endocrine imbalances, fleas, and poor nutrition. Your pet’s overall health can be gauged from the quality of her skin and hair coat.
  • Heart and lungs — Older pets are prone to heart disease, but younger cats and dogs also can show problems with heart rhythm and function. Cardiac disease is best managed when signs first appear, and these signs are often only picked up by auscultation with a stethoscope, leading to further diagnostic testing. Many pets hide heart disease, only displaying coughing and exercise intolerance when the disease is advanced. A diseased heart also can affect the lungs, creating chest wheezes and crackles if fluid backs up.
  • Abdomen — While an abdominal palpation may seem to be a belly massage for your pet, your veterinarian is checking for abnormal masses and organ size. Enlarged kidneys can indicate renal failure, a thickened bladder may be hiding a chronic urinary tract infection, or an enlarged spleen may be feeding a tumor.
  • Muscles, joints, and bones — Gait changes, limping, or muscle loss can often be remedied. Almost all older pets suffer from osteoarthritis, causing stiffness and muscle loss from inactivity due to pain. Another common musculoskeletal issue in dogs involves their cranial cruciate ligament, which is prone to rupture in overweight or active pets. Similar to an ACL tear in human athletes, this injury can cause serious joint-health problems for your pet if not correctly managed.

Your veterinarian will examine your pet from nose to tail, and based on her findings, may recommend additional diagnostic testing.

Why are routine tests important for your pet’s health?

Routine testing of younger pets provides a baseline of their normal values and may identify hidden illnesses. Older pets benefit from routine screening for common species- or breed-specific diseases, the same way people undergo normal screening tests based on hereditary diseases. Your veterinarian may recommend these additional tests geared toward your pet:

  • Blood work — Many veterinarians recommend wellness panels for geriatric pets, but often begin with baseline blood work when the pets are younger. Blood work can reveal many precursors to illness, including anemia, infection, bone marrow issues, diabetes, and organ dysfunction.
  • Heartworm test — The American Heartworm Society recommends annual heartworm testing to ensure your pet remains negative and free from these deadly parasites. Heartworm testing also may test for Lyme disease and other common tick-borne diseases, all of which can progress to dangerous conditions if left untreated.
  • Urinalysis — Inspecting your pet’s urine sample can provide a wealth of information about the urinary tract. A small amount of “liquid gold” can help your veterinary team see signs of inflammation, infection, kidney dysfunction, crystal formation, and diabetes.
  • Fecal examination — Intestinal parasites can hide out in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract, leaching away nutrition. A routine fecal check can identify common intestinal worms. Prompt deworming treatment can prevent the parasite population from increasing, causing diarrhea and other serious health issues.

Since pets—especially cats—are excellent at hiding signs of illness, a thorough physical exam with routine screening tests is crucial to detect early stage illnesses. Early detection and treatment can extend your pet’s life, giving you many more years of quality time together, so schedule a wellness visit to ensure your furry friend is in top physical condition. Check out our AAHA-accredited hospital locator to find a hospital that will give your beloved companion the gold standard of veterinary care.