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.
Is the anesthetic safe?
Today’s modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. During anesthetic procedures, continuous body temperature, pulse oximetry, electocardiography (ECG), and blood pressure are monitored on all our patients. We do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics. We are able to run blood work on patients to assess organ function. Even apparently healthy pets can have serious organ system problems that can’t be detected without blood testing. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected. All pets undergoing general anesthesia will have an IV catheter and IV fluids administered to maintain blood pressure, hydration and kidney function.
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 absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later. Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, 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 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 they feel it. Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations. Comfort of our patients is paramount, and the treatment and prevention of pain is mandatory at Animal Care Clinic.
Pets undergoing more painful procedures may be given epidurals or IV narcotic drips during and after surgery.
What other decisions do I need to make?
When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need to 15 minutes of time to fill out paperwork. When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan to spend about 10-15 minutes to go 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.