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 anesthetics have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Tri-City Animal & Bird Clinic we do a pre-anesthetic 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. Every pet would benefit from blood testing before surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic. 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.
We offer in-house blood testing before surgery and for anesthesia, which we will go over with you when you bring your pet in that morning. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery as well. We recommend pre-anesthetic bloodwork for all pets over 6 years of age.
Anesthetic risks can be further reduced by the use of fluid therapy which maintains blood pressure to vital organs during surgery and help prevents dehydration. Different methods of administering fluids are used and are based on the needs of your pet and the type of surgery being done. We recommend fluid therapy for all pets over 6 years of age.
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 and water after 12 midnight the night before 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 however (especially tumor removals and lacerations), do require skin stitches. 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 their incision but this is an occasional problem that needs to be monitored closely. Please call if your pet licks or scratches at their sutures. 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 for a period of time and no baths are allowed for the first 10 to 14 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 pain. The pain medications needed will depend on the type of surgery performed. Major procedures for example require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.
For dogs and cats, we may recommend an injection for pain the day of surgery followed by two days of oral pain medication to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset, and can be given safely to most pets. The cost of these pain management packages vary from $20 to $37 and are customized to each individual pet's needs. Because cats do not tolerate standard human pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, we are limited in what medication we can give them. However recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before. We now have pain management packages especially tailored to meet the needs of cats.
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 help you make decisions on the blood testing and other options available. When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan on spending 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.