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 procedures have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at North Country Veterinary 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. The anesthetics available to us now allow us to customize protocols for your pet. Intravenous fluids, vital signs monitoring, and temperature management are utilized with every general anesthesia surgery. A veterinary technician is present during the entire procedure, from induction of the anesthetic to complete anesthetic recovery.
Pre-anesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia. 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. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
For dogs over 10 years old and cats over 12 years old a complete blood count and blood chemistries are required prior to the procedure. For all others the blood tests are recommended but optional.
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 in the skin. These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later. Some surgeries do require non-absorbable stitches and you will have to return to have them removed, usually 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. 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. 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 the day after surgery and several days after to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset and can be given even the morning of surgery. The cost of the medication ranges from $10 to $15, depending on the size of your dog. With spays or neuters the pain medication is included in the price of the surgery.
For cats, we typically will administer an injection of a long acting pain medication after the surgery. This will usually last 3 days. Depending on the procedure an oral form of this medication will be sent home if longer pain management is needed.
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 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 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.