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 anesthesia safe?Today's modern anesthesia monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at East Lane Veterinary Hospital, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthesia, to ensure that a fever or other illness won't be a problem. We also adjust the amount and type of anesthesia used, depending on the health of your pet. If your pet is over 7 years old or has other obvious risk factors, we highly recommend pre-anesthetic blood testing. These tests look for problems with major organs, like the kidneys and liver. All this information helps the doctor determine a proper anesthesia plan.
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 remove food for at least 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 or staples. With either type of suture, you will need to monitor 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 10 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.
For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflamatory for several days after surgery to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset, and we often give an injection of pain-killer just prior to the 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 often administer a pain injection just 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. Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is a humane and caring thing to do 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 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, plan to spend about 10 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs.
Please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.