Study investigates anaesthetic-caused deaths in pets

anaesthetic-caused deaths in pets

A team from Spain have conducted an international study on the anaesthetic-caused death rates in cats and dogs, which they have recently submitted before the World Congress of Veterinary Anaesthesiology, held in Valencia.

The results come from analysing up to 16,000 cases provided by 146 veterinary clinics from the UK, France, the US, Argentina, Australia and Spain, among other countries, which voluntarily collaborated in the study. 

The reduction in deaths due to anaesthesia among dogs and cats and the safety of the protocols used by veterinarians, between the pre-anaesthesia phase and the 48 hours following extubation, stand out among the study’s results.

In the case of dogs, the team—led by Professor José Ignacio Redondo at CEU Cardinal Herrera in Valencia—evaluated 12,876 worldwide cases, in which only 71 died, indicating that the dog death rate index where anaesthesia may be a triggering factor is 0.55 per cent. 

In cats, of the 2,958 cases registered, the death rate is even lower, at 0.47 per cent, with only 14 deaths. 

“The results also show that 86 per cent of deaths caused by anaesthesia in dogs and 78.6 per cent in cats occur in the postoperative period, and the factors that most influence the death rate are the animal’s physical condition, its age and weight,” Professor Redondo said.

As well as a low anaesthetic-caused death rate, the study includes other interesting variables for assessing the evolution of veterinary anaesthesiology and its progress on an international level, such as the type of interventions on dogs and cats which most frequently require anaesthesia, including minor and abdominal surgeries, and the most commonly used medicines on an international level for these interventions.

The project is still ongoing, so veterinarians who are interested in taking part can contact Professor Redondo via e-mail at, or on his blog


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