What's a Veterinary Anesthesiologist? - Cat Info Detective

What’s a Veterinary Anesthesiologist?

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Greetings crazy cats! Skye Blake here discovering what your cat wants you to know about veterinary anesthesiologists. What? Who?

Why would your cat want you to know about them?

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Let’s snoop around and find out…

The information here is for general knowledge… always see your vet with questions about your cat’s individual needs. 

Who Is Skye Blake?

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Skye Blake, Cat Info Detective, is a curious cat researcher (not a veterinarian) who sniffs out expert, reliable sources about cats, studies their information, then passes it on to you! 

Sometimes there’s not enough evidence for easy answers, so Skye gives you all sides, explains the situation as thoroughly and clearly as possible, and links you to experts on each page. 

Sources are given at the bottom of each page so you can do more snooping.

What’s a Veterinary Anesthesiologist?

veterinarian, anesthesiologist

“Veterinary anesthesiologists are veterinarians who provide sedation and pain management for animals during surgical procedures and diagnostic tests.””What Does a Veterinary Anesthesiologist Do?

This is an especially important job with animals because they don’t understand what’s happening and react from survival instincts and pain, trying to defend themselves.

Ever tried holding a cat’s injured leg still for an x-ray? It can be quite a challenge and can injure both the cat and the technician.

In those situations, it’s safer for everyone for the cat to be sedated.

What Does a Veterinary Anesthesiologist Do?

veterinarian, anesthesiologist, surgeon

A vet anesthesiologist is part of a team of vets, technicians, and other staff who supervise any sedation required for tests or procedures.

They can do everything a regular vet does plus handle sedation and anesthesia for surgeries and other procedures.

Sedation can be dangerous, especially in older animals, so an anesthesiologist has to carefully evaluate each patient before any procedure starts.

Some considerations are the species, age, weight, and overall health of the animal.

anesthesiology masks, surgery, vet

The type of procedure to be done is another factor in determining what type and how much sedation is necessary.

A dental cleaning might have different requirements than intestinal blockage surgery.

Once a specific plan is ready, the anesthesiologist gives the sedation, along with any pain medications and fluids.

vet looking at computer, monitor, records

He also monitors all of the animal’s vital signs and keeps everyone informed of the patient’s condition, including any signs of stress or problems.

This allows the vet team to make adjustments as necessary.

When the procedure is done, he gives the drugs that reverse the sedation and monitors the animal while waking up.

You can ask to speak directly to the vet who will be handling sedation and pain medications if you have any questions.

vet anesthesiologist, monitoring surgery

Vet anesthesiologists also supervise vet technicians and other support staff.

“Veterinary anesthesiologists have many roles both within their specialized field and as general veterinarians.

Their duties depend on where they work and the needs of their communities.

veterinarian with kitten

Large animal clinics often hire veterinary anesthesiologists to help reduce the workload of veterinarians.” A Complete Guide to Becoming a Veterinary Anesthesiologist | Indeed.com

Some teach in university hospitals or get involved in research to improve education programs.

They also help create pain management plans for animals with special conditions.

What’s It Take to Be a Veterinary Anesthesiologist?

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Veterinary anesthesiologists must start with a 4-year college bachelor’s degree, preferably in a related field like biology.

Then they have to graduate from vet school and become licensed doctors of veterinary medicine (DVM)… usually another 4 years of study.

After that they take specialized training in anesthesiology and can work toward becoming certified by The American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia (“ACVAA“).

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The ACVAA gives a written and oral exam that vets must pass to become a Board-Certified Veterinary Anesthesiologist.

Before they can take the exam, they must complete at least three years of work as a vet anesthesiologist, plus one more year working in general clinical practice.

Residency counts toward the total years of experience required.

vet dentist specialist

“They must also publish at least one study relating to the field of veterinary anesthesiology in a professional journal and submit a well-documented case log before being considered eligible to sit for the board certification exam.”1What Does a Veterinary Anesthesiologist Do?

What’s the ACVAA?

Scientist holding flasks of liquid - vet medicine

The American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia (“ACVAA”) is an organization of and for veterinary anesthesiologists.

It’s an “AVMA-Recognized Veterinary Specialty Organization™ comprised of ACVAA Diplomates who are Board Certified Specialists in Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia® and practice veterinary anesthesia across the globe.” About the ACVAA – American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia

vet checking cat's leg

It was created “to promote the highest standards of clinical practice of veterinary anesthesia and analgesia and defines criteria for designating veterinarians with advanced training as specialists in the clinical practice of veterinary anesthesiology.” About the ACVAA – American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia

Here’s a list of a few things the ACVAA does…

diploma, graduation cap, hat
  • Issues certificates to those who meet the requirements to become board-certified
  • maintains a list of Board Certified Specialists in Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia®
  • Actively pursues scientific research and education in veterinary anesthesiology and analgesia through the ACVAA Foundation

The American Board of Veterinary Specialties (“ABVS”) reviews the ACVAA’s performance every three years.

This is to be sure the ACVAA is continuing to keep high standards for certification.

What Is NAVAS?

microscope - veterinary medicine

The North American Veterinary Anesthesia Society (“NAVAS”) is an organization that works with both the ACVAA and European CVAA to continue raising standards of care around the world using the latest scientific research.

“The NAVAS strives to be a community of, and an accessible resource for, all veterinary caregivers and interested individuals within the general public on matters relevant to veterinary anesthesia, analgesia, and related animal welfare. North American Veterinary Anesthesia Society

Discover more about them at “North American Veterinary Anesthesia Society“.

How Do I find a Board-Certified Vet Anesthesiologist?

vet removing cat from carrier

Vet practices usually have an anesthesiologist on staff, whether or not they’ve completed requirements to become board-certified.

Check the websites for vet practices in your area for information about their staff.

If your vet doesn’t have an anesthesiologist as part of his practice, ask who he works with for procedures.

You can also find a Board-Certified Veterinary Anesthesiologist by contacting a veterinary college.

If You Want to Become a Veterinary Anesthesiologist

veterinarian listening to a cat's heart

If you’d like to find out more about a vet anesthesiologist career path, start with “A Complete Guide to Becoming a Veterinary Anesthesiologist“.

Discover More…

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Discover more about veterinary specialists at “Cat Food!


Sources used on this website are either primary or secondary.

Primary sources are always preferable and have the most reliable information because they’re original and directly referenced.

Scientific abstracts and data are good examples of primary sources.

Secondary sources are weaker because they usually consist of opinions or articles that give no sources of their own. Sometimes they refer to primary sources.

When I use secondary sources, most are those with some authority, such as veterinarian or cat behaviorist books and articles.

List of Sources

American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia“, acvaa.org

Anesthesiology“, Cornell University Veterinary Specialists, Stamford, CT, cuvs.org

A Complete Guide to Becoming a Veterinary Anesthesiologist“, Indeed.com Editorial Team, December 12, 2022

Find a Veterinary Specialist“, vetspecialists.com

North American Veterinary Anesthesia Society | NAVAS“, mynavas.org

VASG Dog & Cat Anesthesia & Pain Management Support

Veterinary Anesthesia Specialists“, vetanesthesiaspecialists.com

Veterinary Anesthesiologists“, MedVet, Emergency and Specialty Vets, medvetforpets.com

What Does a Veterinary Anesthesiologist Do?” by Mary Hope Kramer, liveabout.com, July 4, 2019

Updated April 14, 2024

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