Primary Care


Did you know there are specialists for animal anesthesia, just like there are for human anesthesia?

Some people have increased risk of complications when they go under anesthesia. The same is true for some animals. When a person is at increased risk, a specialist can be brought in to administer anesthesia and monitor them while they're under. The same is true for animals!

Did you know you have access to a board-certified veterinary anesthesiologist at VCA North Portland Veterinary Hospital? Dr. Heidi Shafford is available to assist with surgical procedures requiring anesthesia right here at our clinic.

While human anesthesiologists are common, veterinary anesthesiologists are rare; there are only about 40 in private practice in the country. We are lucky to have Dr. Shafford practicing right here in the Portland area!

Anesthesia is like any medical procedure; there are benefits and risks. The benefit of anesthesia is that your pet gets the care they need to keep thriving, with minimal pain and stress. The most feared risk of anesthesia is death. Anesthetic-induced death is actually uncommon: approximately 1 in 1000 for healthy cats and 1 in 2000 for healthy dogs.

Although the risk of anesthetic death is low, especially for healthy pets, it can be higher for older pets or pets with additional medical conditions. In those cases, it is often beneficial for everyone involved to bring in a specialist a veterinary anesthesiologist to administer anesthesia and monitor your pet during and after the procedure.

If you are worried about your pet and anesthesia, talk to your veterinarian about including Dr. Shafford as part of your veterinary team.