Why does my pet need sedation?

Our patients in veterinary medicine are often less than 100% cooperative for treatments that are necessary for us to keep them healthy. Using gentle handling techniques we can perform most treatments, however, even in the nicest pets, there are just some procedures and treatments that are not appropriate to do without some degree of chemical restraint – also known as sedation.

It’s pretty hard to expect our pets to lay down flat on the x-ray table, let the nurse leave the room and not move a muscle while we take X-rays. And even Lassie would not have allowed us to open her mouth and scale and clean her teeth for 1-2 hours! So to keep our pets safe and decrease stress and fear, we employ varying levels of sedation when needed.

Sedatives taken at home before your appointment

Some pets are nervous about the car or about coming into the hospital. For these pets, our doctors will often prescribe a sedative pill that you give at home before you come in. This will keep your pet relaxed for the car ride and visit. These medications are similar to what is given to people to make you feel relaxed for a quick procedure like LASIK surgery or an MRI.

Sedatives given at Frontier

To safely and comfortably perform treatments at the hospital, we will sometimes give your pet an injection of sedative which is tailored to your pet’s health and the type of treatment. These sedatives range from light sedation like what is called “Twilight” or “Conscious Sedation” for dentistry-anxious people to heavier sedation like what is used in people for biopsies or endoscopies. We use these sedatives for:

Collecting samples – Some pets are just very afraid at the vet. In order to collect blood or urine samples without your pet or our staff getting hurt, we’ll give an injectable sedative which reduces stress and prevents your pet from having an unpleasant experience.

X-Rays – In order to get appropriate diagnostic x-rays, we really need to be able to position your pet properly and they have him lay very still. It would be very unfortunate to get x-rays that aren’t clear or have a poor technique that can’t be interpreted by the radiologist properly.

Cuts and injuries – Torn nails, cuts, sores, and lacerations are all painful and need to be treated while your pet is under sedation for safety and comfort. Sedation also helps with pain control.


General anesthesia is used for surgeries and dental cleanings. This is an inhaled anesthetic which requires intubation, IV fluids, monitoring. The patient is fully unconscious, just like a human would be for a major procedure like heart or orthopedic surgery.

Why do dental cleanings require anesthesia? Dental cleanings for your pet are a medical treatment, and in order to properly clean and assess the whole mouth correctly, we need to fully anesthetize your pet because we can’t expect our pets (or many humans) to be patient enough to lie still and keep their mouth open for 1-2 hours.

What Frontier WON’T do

We will never forcibly hold down a patient to perform painful or stressful treatments. This only increases their stress, anxiety, and pain. Not only is this inappropriate for us to do as caring medical professionals, it is also dangerous to your pet and slows healing.

What's Next

  • 1

    Call us or schedule an appointment online.

  • 2

    Meet with a doctor for an initial exam.

  • 3

    Put a plan together for your pet.