Is the anesthetic you will use safe?
Pet surgery today is much safer than in the past thanks to modern anesthetic monitors. Furthermore, before surgery, we do a complete physical exam on your pet. We’ll do our best to make sure that your pet won’t have to worry about fevers or other illnesses. We also carefully calibrate the amount of anesthetic used based on your pet’s health. Before surgery, we will give you a handout on anesthesia that will explain all of this in greater detail.
Another important preventative measure we take is pre-anesthetic blood testing, which is required for every pet. This test lets us know that your pet’s liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic. Sometimes, even pets that seem healthy can have serious organ problems lurking under the surface. If there is a problem, we want to know before it causes complications or a bad reaction to the pet anesthetic.
For instance, if we know ahead of time that your pet has minor health issues, we can ensure your pet receives IV fluids during surgery. If your pet has larger issues, we can postpone the surgery until the underlying issues are resolved. We may also require additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, and X-rays for geriatric or ill pets.
Finally, one way we keep our pets safe is ensuring that surgery is done on an empty stomach. This reduces the risk of vomiting before and after the anesthesia. You must keep your pet from eating for 8 to 10 hours prior to surgery. However, you can keep water out for your pet until the morning of the surgery.
Will my pet have stitches?
This depends on the surgeries. Some surgeries only require under-skin absorbable stitches. These dissolve on their own and do not need to be removed. However, some surgeries, like tumor removals, will require skin stitches. Those will usually be removed 10-14 days following surgery.
No matter what type of stitches your pet has, you need to observe the site for swelling or discharge. You also must make sure your pet is not chewing or licking excessively at the incision (though this is not a problem for most dogs and cats). Limit your pet’s activity for a time, and do not give your pet a bath for at least 10 days after surgery.
Will my pet be in pain?
If something causes pain in people, unfortunately, it will also cause pain in animals. Even if your pet is not whining, crying, or showing symptoms of pain as a person would, they do feel it.
The good news is that we are proactive about managing and preventing pain in pets. We will provide pet medications based on the surgery, with major surgeries requiring more pain relief than minor ones.
We often recommend oral anti-inflammatory medications for dogs on the day after surgery and for several subsequent days. This can prevent discomfort and swelling. The newer medications we use are less likely to give your dog an upset stomach. Some can even be given the morning of the surgery to get ahead of the pain.
Unfortunately our options are more limited for cats, since they do not tolerate human-based medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen as dogs do. But thanks to recent advances in pet medication, we have more options and better pain control for cats. These options include pain injections (administered prior to surgery) and other pain medications after the surgery.
Any animal that appears to be in pain will be given extra pain medication. We will not let your pet suffer unnecessarily. For instance, we offer narcotic patches for some surgeries in dogs. The cost will depend on the size of your dog. You wouldn’t let yourself or your child go without appropriate pain relief after a difficult medical procedure. Ensuring your pet gets the same treatment is only the humane, caring thing to do.
What else do I need to know? What other decisions should I make?
First of all, we recommend that if your pet is under anesthesia for one procedure, it might be helpful to perform others. Pet dentistry, microchip implantation, and ear cleaning can all be done during surgery or while your pet is still under anesthesia. Please contact us to learn more about these services, get an estimate, and make arrangements, especially if you will not be dropping your pet off for surgery yourself.
On the morning of the surgery, expect to spend 5-10 minutes with us for paperwork and decision-making. When you pick your pet up, you can also expect to spend 15 minutes or so to go over your pet’s home care needs.
The night before your pet’s scheduled surgery, expect a call from us. We will confirm your drop-off time and answer any questions you might have. But in the meantime, if you have more questions, never hesitate to contact us