Why does my pet need to be sedated?

Administration of a sedative will allow your pet to relax and not feel moderate discomfort. Sedatives are normally given for carrying out diagnostic procedures that are not especially painful but which might be uncomfortable if it were not for the action of the sedative and which might require special positioning. Sedatives are not used on their own for surgical procedures – general anaesthesia is used under these circumstances.

What is sedation?

Pets that are sedated are in a ‘sleepy’ state. It makes them physically and mentally relaxed during an investigation which may otherwise be unpleasant. They are unlikely to remember what has happened, much as in humans who have had a procedure under sedation in hospital.

What do I need to do to prepare my pet for having sedation?

  • Fasting your pet overnight – your pet should have their normal meal the night before admission (unless otherwise instructed), but should have no further access to food after this. However, he or she should have free access to water until you leave the house to come to the surgery.
  • Cats should be kept in during the night before the procedure to prevent them helping themselves to food from elsewhere and to make it easy to find them!
  • Take your dog for a walk in the morning to allow him or her to empty the bladder and bowels.
  • Monitor your pet for any signs of illness not related to the procedure about to be carried out, and let the vet or nurse know if you have any concerns.
  • Have a note of your pet’s current medication, including over the counter preparations and make sure that the vet or nurse knows about these at the time of admission.

What happens after my pet has been admitted?

The sedative drugs to be used will be chosen according to the procedure that is being performed and the medical history and findings on physical examination of your pet. Your pet will receive an injection in his/her muscle or in a vein. After an appropriate amount of time we will continue with the procedure. We closely monitor all patients for the entire time that they are sedated.

What will my pet be like when they come home from the vets?

If your pet is discharged on the day of the procedure, he/she will probably be a little sleepy. You should offer some light food (e.g. boiled chicken or fish and rice) and water, but do not expect him/her to have a normal appetite. The effects of the sedation will wear off over the next few days. Please look out for any signs of pain or discomfort and contact the practice if you are at all concerned.

What can I do for my pet?

  • Provide him/her with a bed in a quiet, warm area.
  • Do not let cats go out until the next day, if at all possible, as their balance may not be back to normal.
  • Take your dog out to the garden or for a very short walk to allow him/her to pass urine but do not let him/her off the lead.
  • Follow the instructions provided by your vet for medication and general care which is specific to his/her condition.


If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Arranging a referral for your pet

If you would like to refer your pet to see one of our Specialists please visit our Arranging a Referral page.