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 the following 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 Village Pet Doctor, we do a thorough physical exam of your pet before administering anesthetics to ensure that they do not have a fever or other illness that could be a problem. We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on your pet’s health and the type of procedure.
Preanesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risks associated with anesthesia. Every pet needs blood testing before surgery to ensure the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic. Even animals that seem healthy can have serious organ system issues 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. During surgery, we administer fluids as animals tend to handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV fluids. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
We provide in-house blood testing before every surgery, which we will review with you when you bring your pet in. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or X-rays may also 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. It’s crucial for you to withhold food after 8 pm the night before surgery. Water can be left down for the pet.
Will my pet have stitches?
For many surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve independently 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 ten 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 pain symptoms as people; they usually don’t whine or cry, but you can be sure they feel it. Pain tolerance differs in every pet, so the pain medications needed will depend on the pet and what surgery is performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.
For dogs, 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 stomach upset and can be given even on the morning of surgery.
Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, 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 administer a pain injection 10 minutes prior to surgery. After surgery, pain medication is given on a case-by-case basis. Any animal that appears to be in pain will receive additional pain medication.
Injectable pain medications may also be used after surgery on both dogs and cats. Our veterinary team will provide whatever pain relief is appropriate to ensure a humane and caring recovery 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 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 blood testing and other options available. When you pick up your pet after surgery, please plan to spend about 10 minutes going over your pet’s home care needs with our team.
We will call you the day before your pet’s 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.