What You Need to Know Before Your Pet's Upcoming Surgery
Many people have questions about various aspects of their pet's surgery, and we hope this information will help. It also explains the decisions you will need to make before your pet's upcoming surgery.
How safe is my pet’s procedure?
Our veterinarians take every precaution to make sure your pet comes out of any procedure, whether major or minor, on the way to a swift recovery. To ensure your pet’s safety, we provide round-the-clock care and monitoring for all surgical patients during business hours. We perform all pet surgeries under anesthesia and advocate the use of pre-anesthetic blood work to detect any underlying disease that may affect the response to anesthesia.
With your pet’s comfort and safety at the forefront, we utilize pain management protocols before, during, and after surgery until they are completely recovered. This includes monitoring vital signs, assessing your pet for pain indicators, and keeping them well-fed, warm and comfortable in their surroundings.
What is a pre-anesthetic blood screening?
This is a blood test that is run here in the clinic prior to surgery. It tests the organ functions, blood counts, and clotting function of your pet. The pre-anesthetic blood screening is done to assure safety during surgery and the ability to heal following surgery.
Is the anesthetic safe?
Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet.
Pre-anesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia. Every pet needs blood testing before surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic. Even apparently healthy animals can have serious organ system problems that cannot be detected without blood testing. If there is a problem, it is much better to find it before it causes anesthetic or surgical complications. Animals that have minor dysfunction will handle the anesthetic better when they receive IV fluids during surgery. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
We perform in-house blood testing before surgery, which we will go over with you when you bring your pet in. Our doctors will select tests that are most appropriate for your pet’s age and medical history. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery as well.
It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. You will need to withhold food and water for at least 8 to 10 hours before surgery.
Will my pet have stitches?
For many surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later. Nearly all surgeries will have skin sutures. You will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge. Most dogs and cats do not lick excessively or chew at the incision, but this is an occasional problem you will also need to watch for. Skin sutures are removed 14 days after surgery. You will also need to limit your pet's activity level for a time and no baths or swimming is allowed until the sutures are removed.
How long do sutures stay in after my pet's surgery?
Procedures involving sutures require them to be removed in 14 days following the surgery.
Will my pet be in pain?
Anything that causes pain in people can be expected to cause pain in animals. Pets may not show the same symptoms of pain as people do; they usually don't whine or cry, but you can be sure they feel it. Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.
The doctors prescribe pain management for nearly all surgeries for several days after the procedure to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use injectable medications on the day of surgery.
Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before. We administer a pain injection prior to surgery. After surgery, pain medication is given on a case-by-case basis. Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication.
Injectable pain medications may also be used after surgery on both dogs and cats. Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is a humane and caring thing to do for your pet.
What other decisions do I need to make?
While your pet is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures, such as dentistry, ear cleaning, or implanting an identification microchip. If you would like a treatment plan for these extra services, please call ahead of time. This is especially important if the person dropping the pet off for surgery is not the primary decision maker for the pet's care.
When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need 15 to 20 minutes of time to fill out paperwork and potentially make decisions on other options available. When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan to spend about 10 minutes going over your pet's home care needs.
We will call you the night before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm the time you will be dropping your pet off and to answer any questions you might have. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.