What You Need to Know 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 Fair Grove Veterinary Service, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, to ensure that an underlying illness won't be a problem. We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet. We use the same quality anesthetics that are used for human surgical procedures. The handout on anesthesia explains this in greater detail.
Preanesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia. In older pets we require blood testing before surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can properly "filter" 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 dysfunctions 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.
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 7 to 10 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 7 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, spays and neuters. Rest assured that your pet will receive adequate pain medication to keep him/her as comfortable as possible in the perioperative period. In many cases you may have pain medication to administer to your pet at home.
What other decisions do I need to make?
While your pet is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures vaccinations, 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 to 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 to go over your pet's home care needs.