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Is General Anaesthetic Safe for Epileptic Dogs?

Updated: May 6

Is General Anaesthetic Safe for Epileptic Dogs?

Anaesthesia can be a scary prospect for pet owners of dogs with epilepsy. However, with proper understanding and precautions, anaesthesia can be administered safely to epileptic dogs, even for procedures unrelated to their seizure disorder. In this informative post, we'll explore the risks associated with general anaesthetic in epileptic dogs and why it can still be safe when managed appropriately.

Understanding Anesthesia in Epileptic Dogs

  • Preanesthetic Examination: Before undergoing anaesthesia, epileptic dogs should undergo a thorough pre-anaesthetic examination to assess their overall health and identify potential seizure triggers. Owners should ensure that their veterinarian is aware of any recent changes in their dog's seizure frequency or severity, as well as any other medical conditions that may impact anaesthesia.

  • Premedication Before Anaesthesia: Premedication aims to minimise stress and provide analgesia before induction. While acepromazine should be avoided in epileptic dogs due to reported seizure threshold reduction, opioids are generally safe for providing analgesia and sedation.

  • Induction and Maintenance: Owners must communicate with their veterinarian about their dog's epilepsy diagnosis and any current medications they may be taking. Anaesthetic protocols can be tailored to minimise the risk of seizure activity during and after the procedure. Owners should discuss the use of drugs known to lower seizure thresholds, such as ketamine, and inquire about alternative options that may be safer for epileptic dogs. Propofol and thiobarbiturates are commonly used for induction. Inhalation agents like sevoflurane and isoflurane are preferred for maintenance due to their lesser effects on cerebral blood flow.

  • Constant Monitoring: Heavily sedated or anaesthetised dogs require vigilant monitoring to ensure their safety and well-being. Observation should include respiratory and cardiovascular parameters and appropriate supportive care should be provided as needed.


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Tips for Owners

  • Open Communication: Talk openly with your veterinarian about your dog's epilepsy diagnosis and any concerns you may have about anaesthesia. Discuss the risks and benefits of anaesthesia for your dog's specific situation and ask questions to ensure you understand the proposed treatment plan.

  • Monitor Your Dog: Keep a close eye on your dog's behaviour and seizure activity leading up to the procedure. If you notice any changes or unusual symptoms, such as increased restlessness or anxiety, inform your veterinarian promptly.

  • Follow Preanesthetic Instructions: Follow any preanesthetic instructions provided by your veterinarian carefully, including fasting guidelines and medication protocols. Adhering to these instructions can help minimise the risk of complications during anaesthesia.

What to Say to Your Veterinarian

  • Provide Detailed Medical History: Be sure to provide your veterinarian with a detailed medical history for your dog, including information about their epilepsy diagnosis, current medications, and any previous experiences with anaesthesia.

  • Discuss Anaesthetic Concerns: Express any concerns or questions you may have about anaesthesia for your epileptic dog. Ask about the specific drugs and protocols that will be used and inquire about alternative options if you're unsure about their safety.

  • Request Regular Updates: During the procedure, ask your veterinarian to provide regular updates on your dog's condition and alert you to any changes or concerns that arise. Open communication and collaboration with your veterinarian are key to ensuring the safety and well-being of your epileptic dog during anaesthesia.


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Conclusion: Is General Anaesthetic Safe for Epileptic Dogs?

While there are inherent risks, anaesthesia can be safely administered to epileptic dogs with careful consideration and planning. By maintaining open communication with your veterinarian, following preanesthetic instructions, and monitoring your dog closely before and after the procedure, you can help ensure a safe and successful anesthesia experience for your furry friend.


  • Vetlexicon. "Anesthesia in Epileptic Patient." Link

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