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.
Is the anesthetic safe?
Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Gregory Veterinary Clinic, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, to ensure that a fever or other illness won't be a problem. We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet.
Preanesthetic 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 if they receive IV fluids during surgery. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery as well.
Is there anything I need to do to prepare my pet for surgery?
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 starting at 10pm the night 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. Pets should also avoid bathing, swimming, and grooming during this window, unless permitted by your doctor.
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.
For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflamatory the day after surgery and several days after to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We administer a pain injection 10 minutes prior to surgery, so this medication is usually started the next morning. We also use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset and can be given even the morning of surgery.
For cats, recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control than ever before. We administer a pain injection 10 minutes prior to surgery. After surgery, pain medication is typically sent home to be started that evening or the following morning.
Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication.
Does my pet have to wear a cone?
Depending on the type of surgery a cone may or may not be needed. For our spay, neuter, and tumor removal surgeries an e-collar is likely to be sent home with you. The pet should be wearing these consistently for 10-14 days, especially if there is not someone there to monitor them.
Soft cones and onesies may be an option for your pet; however, these often tend to slide off or expose the incision site where the pet can irritate it. We only carry and send home the plastic e-collars as these are more difficult for the pet to move and disrupt their healing.
Is my pet staying overnight?
Our clinic does not offer any overnight monitoring or services. For those undergoing surgery, pets will be dropped off between 8:00-8:30am and picked up the same day in the afternoon, usually around 3-4pm. You will get a call home after surgery for updates and to give you a more exact pick up time. These times vary due to the time needed for the pet to wake up from anesthesia. Every pet is different and some are ready to go home sooner than others. We fully monitor them as they are hospitalized to ensure they are ready to go home without complications.
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 an estimate 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 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork and make decisions on the blood testing and 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.