What You Need To Know About You 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
Is the anesthetic safe?
Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past.
Here at The Pet Clinic On Main Street, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet
before administering anesthetics to ensure that a fever or other illnesses will not be problematic.
We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet.
There are always risks with anesthesia, but we do everything we can to reduce those risks.
Pre-anesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risks involved with anesthesia.
We recommend that all patients have pre-anesthetic 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 if
they receive IV fluids during surgery. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be
postponed until the problem is corrected. We require that all patients over the age of 7
years have pre-anesthetic testing, since these patients are considered geriatric, to ensure
that all precautions are taken prior to anesthesia. We offer three levels of in-house testing
prior to surgery, which we will go over with you when you bring your pet in.
Our doctor prefers the more comprehensive screen, because it gives him the most
information to ensure the safety of your pet. For geriatric or ill pets, additional
blood testes 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 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 many surgeries, we use absorb-able sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve
on their own, and do not need to be removed later. Some surgeries do require skin stitches.
With either type of suture, 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. If there are skin sutures, these will usually
be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery. You will also need to limit your pet's activity level
for a time as directed by the doctor, and no baths are allowed for the first 10 days after 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 that they feel it. Pain medications needed will depend on
the procedure performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than things
like minor lacerations.
For most surgeries, an injectable pain med is given prior to surgery that typically lasts 24 hours,
we may recommend an oral anti-inflammatory the day after surgery and several days after to
lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use newer medications, which are less likely
to cause upset stomach and can be given even the morning of surgery. Any animal that appears
to be in pain will receive additional pain medication.
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, nail trims, or implanting an identification
microchip. If you would like an estimate on 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 about 5-10 minutes of time to
fill out paperwork and make decisions on the blood testing and other options available
as well as answer any questions you might have at that time. When you pick up your
pet after surgery, you can also plan to spend 5-10 minutes to go over your pet's
individual home care needs and instructions.
We will call you the day before your scheduled surgery appointment to confirm
the drop off time and to answer any questions that you might have. In the meantime,
please don't hesitate to call us with any questions or concerns about your
pets health or about surgery.