VCA Veterinary Referral Associates

Providing Specialized Veterinarian Care, including Animal Anesthesiology, The Specialty Vets of VRA-VCA Are Here to Help.

Anesthesia services are offered in Veterinary Referral Associates' Surgery, Neurology, Emergency/Critical Care, Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Internal Medicine, Ophthalmology, and Diagnostic Imaging departments.

The term anesthesia is the use of medications to produce unconsciousness, analgesia, and immobility. Anesthesia is induced using a variety of injectable and inhaled medications. Veterinary anesthesia is used for procedures that require an unconscious animal; such as surgery, certain imaging studies (MRI, CT scans) or medical procedures.

Before anesthesia, the pet would undergo tests to determine its health status and its impact on anesthesia. This is to better define the degree of risk and we use the scale recommended by the ASA (American Society of Anesthesiologists). Pets are usually restricted from food for 12 hours before anesthesia. Some patients, such as diabetics, may have alternate fasting requirements �" just ask us what is necessary for your pet.

Pets undergoing anesthesia are typically pre-medicated with an injectable drug including benzodiazepines, opioids, and/or alpha-2 adrenergic agonists. This pre-medication helps the pet relax so that anesthesia can be induced smoothly and safely. Induction drugs include propofol, etomidate, or dissociatives such as ketamine. After the pet receives intravenous medication to cause loss of consciousness, an endotracheal tube is then placed into the pet's upper airway, and gas anesthesia keeps the pet comfortably anesthetized during the course of the procedure. All pets undergoing anesthesia are carefully monitored before, during and after a procedure by our veterinarians and technicians to ensure the best outcome. At Veterinary Referral Associates, our monitoring capability includes blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation (pulse oximetry), carbon dioxide levels (end-tidal or blood gas values), heart rate and rhythm, and rate of respiration. We can measure blood pressure through arterial catheters and sample blood gases for our critically ill patients.

For all patients, pain management is a priority! We aim to make the pet as comfortable as possible and to prevent/treat chronic pain. We believe this step takes extra care but results in our patients returning to normal function more rapidly. To accomplish our goal, we incorporate a variety of medication before a procedure begins, practice balanced anesthesia using constant rate infusions of multiple analgesics, and can add local anesthetics such as bupivacaine and lidocaine to selected regions. We offer local anesthesia with morphine and bupivacaine epidurals as well as morphine-only epidural analgesia to improve post-operative pain control or for certain procedures, to avoid true “general anesthesia”. We maintain patients on constant rate infusions, or intermittent injectable pain medications after surgery, and then wean them onto oral medications that include multi-modal pain management focusing on the COX pathways, opioid receptors, and NMDA receptors.

Services Offered in Anesthesiology

Veterinarians in Anesthesiology


General Practice

We have over 600 animal hospitals in 41 states and 4 Canadian provinces that are staffed by more than 3,000 fully-qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 400 being board-certified specialists.

The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments such as wellness, spay/neuter, advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiology, neurology, boarding, and grooming. Services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Emergency Care

Your emergency needs can be met right here at our hospital.
VCA Veterinarian Referral Associates provides 24 hour emergency veterinary care, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Emergency veterinarians, veterinary technicians and/or veterinary assistants are on staff 24 hours a day.

Please call us at 301-926-3300. We are located at 500 Perry Parkway. Gaithersburg, MD 20877.

We provide the highest standard in veterinary emergency and critical care services. We are trained and equipped to perform a variety of emergency surgeries and procedures. We provide the highest standards of pain management. Emergency internal medicine consultations, including full diagnostics, are available.

Please call or come in immediately if you feel your pet is having an emergency or needs after-hours care.