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Ask A Vet: Should I Worry About My Boxer Going Under Anesthesia?

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At some point during your Boxer’s life, he/she will need some type of surgery. Because of Boxers’ genetic predisposition to skin tumors, your dog will likely require more than one mass removal during his/her adulthood. There may be other times that your Boxer needs surgery. If it is not an emergency, one can question if the procedure is worth the risk. But just how risky is anesthesia for Boxers?

The definition of anesthesia is a temporary loss of feeling or awareness. In modern medicine, we use drugs to cause loss of consciousness for the purpose of performing procedures. Over time, the safety and effectiveness of anesthesia has improved dramatically. In 1846, a dentist by the name of William T.G Morton, along with a surgeon named John Collins Warren, performed the first surgical procedure with anesthesia. Dr. Morton had been on a quest to find something better than nitrous oxide gas (which is still used in human dentistry today). Before that time, the prospect of surgery was a haunting one.

Anesthetic mishaps make headlines, but a recent study among human beings anesthetized over a period of 8 years in a Brazilian hospital found that although some patients died during surgery (16 deaths in 10,000), they were all related to patient factors, like preexisting disease1. None of the deaths were related to actual anesthesia, so the likelihood that your normal healthy Boxer would not recover from anesthesia is slim. A 2012 study on anesthetic deaths among dogs and cats found that anesthetic death among healthy pets is rare at only 0.12% (3/2602).2

Given the other genetic predisposition of Boxers toward cardiac disease, monitoring is vital for their anesthetic safety. Most veterinarians safely anesthetize Boxers with regularity. The risk is not greater for Boxers than for any other dog unless your dog has cardiac disease and even then, anesthesia can still be safely administered with careful drug choices and monitoring. It is so important that you not let fear of anesthesia (which has proven to be a minimal risk) stop you from addressing something that your dog needs, whether it is dental care or a mass removal.

If your dog could tell you how bad dental disease hurts or make a choice for himself, he would choose to have his life saved and/or his pain addressed. Don’t let unfounded fear of anesthesia stop you from helping your Boxer!

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  1. Pignaton, Wangles et al. “Perioperative and Anesthesia-Related Mortality: An 8-Year Observational Survey From a Tertiary Teaching Hospital.” Ed. Pasquale De Negri.Medicine 2 (2016): e2208. PMC. Web. 4 Feb. 2017.
  2. Bille C, Auvigne V, Libermann S, Bomassi E, Durieux P, Rattez E.Risk of anaesthetic mortality in dogs and cats: an observational cohort study of 3546 cases. Vet Anaesth Analg. 2012 Jan;39(1):59-68. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2995.2011.00686.x. PubMed PMID: 22151876.

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