What you need to know before your pet's surgery
Many people have questions and concerns about the various aspects of their pet's upcoming surgery. We hope this information will help answer those questions and ease any concerns. It also explains some of the decisions you will need to make before your pet's surgery.
Is the anesthetic safe?
Today's modern anesthetics have made surgery much safer than in the past. We perform a complete physical exam on your pet before administering anesthesia to ensure the safety of your pet during surgery. 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 risks of anesthesia. Every pet should have blood testing before surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can metabolize the anesthetic. Even animals that appear to be healthy 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. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
We recommend different levels of in-house blood testing before surgery, depending on your pet's age and health. We prefer the more comprehensive laboratory screening, because it gives our doctors the most information to ensure the safety of your pet. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or X-rays may be required before surgery.
It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. Please withhold your pet's food for at least 8 to 10 hours before surgery. Water can be left down for the pet until the morning of surgery.
Will my pet have stitches?
For most surgeries, we use skin sutures as our skin closure. You will need to keep an eye on the incision for redness, 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. If you have any questions or concerns, please call our clinic as soon as possible. Skin sutures will usually be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery. You will also need to limit your pet's activity level during this time, and no baths are allowed until sutures are removed.
Will my pet be in pain?
Animals feel pain just as people do, therefore we may recommend pain medication to help your pet recover from surgery. The type of pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than minor lacerations.
Cats should never be given certain pain medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, so we are limited in what we can give them. Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before. We will administer a pain injection 10 minutes prior to surgery. After surgery, pain medication is given on a case-by-case basis.
What other decisions do I need to make?
While your pet is under anesthesia, it may be the ideal time to perform other minor procedures, such as dentistry, ear cleaning, or implanting an identification microchip. If these additional services are appropriate or desired, we will discuss these procedures with you prior to your pet's surgery.
When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need a few minutes of your time to fill out paperwork. When you pick up your pet after surgery, you can also plan to spend about 10 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs.
Please don't hesitate to call us with any questions you may have about your pet's health or surgery.