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 techniques and monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. At Somerset Veterinary Hospital, 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. Blood testing is advised on all pets prior to anesthesia. Many conditions, including disorders of the liver and kidneys, may be detected through blood testing, possibly before your pet shows clinical signs of illness. In some cases, such as geriatric or sick patients, the doctor may require blood testing prior to anesthsia. If there is a problem, it is much better to find it before it causes anesthetic or surgical complications.
Intravenous (IV) catheter placement enables us to administer IV fluids during your pet's procedure which helps prevent low blood pressure and dehydration. It also allows for the immediate administration of life-saving drugs in the event of an emergency. In some cases, such as geriatric or sick patients, the doctor may require an IV catheter.
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 (stitches) underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed. Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, do require skin sutures. 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 and may require an Elizabethan collar. 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. The control of pain is an important aspect of the surgical procedure. Our goal is to minimize the inherent discomfort associated with all surgical procedures. A pain-free pet requires a lower level of anesthesia throughout the procedure. This increases the safety of your pet and helps ensure a smooth and speedy recovery. In addition, we may prescribe medication for pain to be given at home. The medications used and the length of treatment will depend on the pain involved with the procedure and the pet's response to pain.
Will my pet need to spend the night?
Pets undergoing major surgical procedures such as a spay or other abdominal surgery, orthopedic surgery, neutering, declawing and some mass removals will spend the night. Dental procedures and small mass removals will go home the evening of surgery.
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 dental cleaning, 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. You may print and complete the surgery consent form before coming to the hospital. This can be found in the "Forms" section of the website. 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.
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.