Normal Precautions can make All the Difference

Question:
My 9 year old cat has recently undergone a dental procedure. No bloods were checked before anesthesia and we were not offered the opportunity to have it done. My cat has been very unwell for one week and in acute renal failure. She is now being looked after in the Glasgow University small animal hospital. I wasn’t made aware of specific risks to older cats in relation to renal function prior to the procedure, merely that anesthetics in general carry risks.

Dr. Nichol:
I’m really sorry to hear about this lapse in your kitty’s medical care.  While most appear happy and active all older cats have aging changes in their kidneys. It’s a fact of life for them. Another reality is that modern anesthetic drugs are considered safe but they diminish blood pressure. Intravenous fluids are necessary to add volume to the vessels so all organ systems get adequate blood flow.  A lab profile plus IV fluids, especially in older pets, should be considered the standard of care.

Dr. Anne Hale of the Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center is highly trained in internal medicine. I asked for her input. “We often notice sudden changes in oral health and decide to pursue dental cleaning; however, just as with humans, before any anesthetic procedure a full look at overall health by physical examination, complete blood count and biochemical profile are important to fully assess the risks. Appropriate fluid therapy and anesthetic monitoring of blood pressure is also very useful in avoiding complications. Severe problems that are discovered early may need to be controlled, requiring an elective procedure like a dental cleaning to be postponed or cancelled altogether.”

I can only say how sorry I am that appropriate precautions were not taken for your kitty. You did the right thing by taking her to the university teaching hospital. I would be optimistic; cases like this usually respond well to treatment.

I would love to meet my readers at the Albuquerque Journal booth during the Wellness Fair in Coronado Center Saturday, October 25. I’ll be there from 10 AM-noon. Copies of my book on medical and behavior issues of cats will be on sale. I’ll be delighted to personally sign them.