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I agree, this is really concerning.
I'm not sure what the underlying issue is, but it can be related to the endotracheal tube as they suggested.
However, all pets are intubated during general anesthesia, and it is not considered normal for them to have a cough.
Therefore, I do think that something went wrong - perhaps they were not handled carefully when changing positions -
Imagine the ET tube inside the windpipe. When we change the position of the patient (flipping from one side to the other to clean the teeth, for example), we must be conscious of doing it gently to prevent that ET tube from banging around a lot and causing inflammation and irritation in the windpipe.
Another possible issue would be the ET tube cuff.
The ET tube should fit relatively snugly inside the windpipe, but we cannot always accomplish a perfect fit.
Therefore, each ET tube has a small balloon at the end which can be inflated to make it fit snugly in the windpipe.
This snug fit prevents anything from going into the lungs during anesthesia.
That can happen if a pet vomits, or in the case of dentals, there is a LOT of water used during a procedure that could drain into the lungs if they aren't sufficiently protected.
So my top two concerns here would be 1) careless handling when moving your intubated pets, or 2) not making sure they had a well fitting ET tube and something was introduced into the lungs during the procedure.
These are mainly responsibilities of the veterinary technicians. At most hospitals, that would be the case anyway. So the new vet may be very competent, but I would be concerned if the other staff members are not handling your pets appropriately.
I can't say that with certainty, but I'm surprised that BOTH of your cats had the same problem. That makes me worry it could be an issue with improper training.
I'm so sorry about that.
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