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.
Q: Is the anesthetic safe for my pet?
A: Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Advanced Pet Care 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. The handout on anesthesia explains this in greater detail.
Pre-anesthetic 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. All patients that undergo anesthesia lasting longer than a few minutes receive IV fluids while under anesthesia. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
Q: Should I feed and give my pet his medication before surgery?
A: 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. Patients can have access to water until the morning of surgery. Check with Dr. about the type of medication your pet is taking to see if it should be administered the day of surgery.
Q: Will my pet have stitches?
A: For most of our surgeries we use absorbable sutures beneath the skin that will dissolve over time. Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, do require skin stitches. These are typically removed 10 to 14 days after surgery. With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge. Watch your pet for excessive licking or chewing at the incision. Sometimes they may need a cone to prevent them from doing this. You will need to limit your pet's activity level for a time depending on the procedure, and no baths are allowed for the first 10 days after surgery.
Q: Will my pet be in pain?
A: 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 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-inflammatory to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use medications that are less likely to cause stomach upset and can be given the morning of surgery. All patients will receive injections of pain medication while in the hospital, and most will receive pain medication to go home.
Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, we are limited as to 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 prior to recovery from 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 will also be used after surgery on both dogs and cats. Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is a humane and caring thing to do for your pet.
Q: What other decisions do I need to make?
A: 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 or ask during check in. 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, plan on 5 to 10 minutes before and after to fill out paper work, decide on blood testing and other available options. We also like to go over your pet's after surgery care, medications and any other questions you may have for us.
Please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.