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Candy R.
Candy R., Veterinary Technician
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 11619
Experience:  Practicing Veterinary Technician for 26 years.Former Veterinary Practice Owner, Technician Trainer
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My healthy 10 year old cat went in for a routine teeth cleaning

Resolved Question:

My healthy 10 year old cat went in for a routine teeth cleaning last week and died while under anesthesia. He stopped breathing on his own then his heart stopped. The only explanation the vet has was that he had an allergic reaction to the cocktail. He said this was the only incident he has ever encountered in 30 years of practice.

Has anyone out there experienced this and or have an idea what could have gone wrong.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  Candy R. replied 5 years ago.
Hello,I am so sorry this happened to your cat. It is never easy to loose a pet and when it happens expectantly it is heartbreaking
I would love to help I just have a few additional questions so I can better assist you.

Was blood work done before the dental?

Did he have any existing health problems?

Do you know if he was on oxygen during surgery?

Do you know what anesthesia was used?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes blood work and physical was done.

Cat did not have any heath problems. In fact he was in particularly good shape. Not over weight or under weight. (10 pounds which was ideal for his size)

Yes he was on oxygen and ekg

Vet used ketamine and used slightly less than the recommended dosage for his weight

The cat had been put under 3 times previously before with ketamine for teeth cleaning and an extraction. However it has been 4 years since the last time he was anesthetized.

Expert:  Candy R. replied 5 years ago.
Thank you very much for the additional information . Again I am so sorry this happened.

Have I seen anesthetic death before yes but it is not very common. Any time we put a pet under anesthesia there are risks regardless of the age, and, all we can do in minimize the risks as much as possible. I have seen this happen more in cats then in dogs, however in 25 years I have only seen this happen a handful of times.

In my experience the most common cause of death during anesthesia in a senior cat is undiagnosed heart disease. Rarely is heart disease diagnosed in cats until they have a cardiac event such as a sudden blood clot , heart failure or sudden death.
Here is a good article on this

Of course a reaction to the anesthesia is possible as well as human error such as giving to much or improper monitoring. This does not sound like it was anything that was done wrong by your vet in fact by giving less then the normal dose it seems that they were being overly cautious and considering his age.

Unfortunately the only way to know for sure what the actual cause of death was would be to have a full Necropsy done including blood work and tissue sample if nothing is obvious on exam.

I wish I could give a for sure reason but without that necropsy all we can do is speculate.
Here is a great site that is very helpful to some pet owners during this time.
Click here

I hope this helps in some small way and again I am very sorry for your loss. Please reply back if you have any additional questions
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