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.
Today's modern anesthetic protocols and monitoring equipment have made surgery much safer than in the past. At Chambers Creek Veterinary Hospital, we perform a thorough physical exam on your pet before designing an appropriate anesthetic protocol and administering anesthesia. We also adjust the type and amount of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet.
Pre-anesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia and tailoring an anesthetic protocol appropriate for your pet. Every pet needs blood testing within 60 days prior to surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can safely handle the anesthesia. Even apparently healthy animals can have serious systemic problems that cannot be detected without blood testing. If there is a problem, it is much better to be aware of the problem to minimize the risk of anesthetic or surgical complications. If serious problems are detected, surgery may be postponed until the problem is corrected.
We offer in-house blood testing before surgery, which we will discuss with you when you bring your pet in. For geriatric or ill pets, additional testing may be required before surgery to assure that they are appropriate candidates for anesthesia.
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 should remain available to your pet until the morning of surgery.
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 mass removals, do require skin sutures or staples. With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for redness, swelling, or discharge. Most dogs and cats do not lick excessively or chew at the incision, but those that do may require an Elizabethan collar ("the lampshade/cone") to prevent them from causing damage to their incision. 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 until the incision has fully healed. Your pet will be sent home with specific discharge instructions regarding post-operative home care.
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 they may become less active or have a decreased appetite. Pain treatment prescribed will depend on the surgery performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than procedures like a minor laceration repair.
Our goal is to minimize post-operative pain in our patients to optimize the healing process and keep pets comfortable. Patients who have undergone a surgical procedure will receive post-operative pain medication. The type of medication will be chosen based on the procedure performed as well as the individual patient's health.
While your pet is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures, such as dentistry or implanting an identification microchip. We will provide an estimate for these additional services at your request.. 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 discuss the procedures to be performed. 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 send you a confirmation letter detailing what you may expect on the day of surgery, and call you the day 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.