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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 monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Monon Animal Hospital, we do a thorough physical exam of 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.
We recommend that every pet has a blood test before an anesthetic procedure (surgery, dental cleaning, etc.) to reduce the risks associated with 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. Our doctors can make better decisions regarding the anesthetic protocol by having information gained from a routine pre-anesthetic screen. If serious problems are detected, the procedure can often be postponed until the problem is corrected.
We highly recommend blood testing at least one day before surgery, which we will go over with you during the pre-surgical exam. Dr. Simpson and Dr. Rueter prefer results from commercial laboratory services because it gives them the most accurate and thorough information to ensure the safety of your pet. For geriatric or ill pets, additional tests, urine samples, electrocardiograms or x-rays may be required before surgery as well.
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 from your pet 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 routine surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later. Some surgeries, such as tumor removals may require external 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 the incision, but this is an occasional problem you will also need to watch for. If this occurs, we believe your pet may be experiencing more pain than anticipated and may require additional pain relief. In some cases, a special collar may need to be worn for a few days. 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-inflammatory for several days after a procedure to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling.
Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, 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 administer a pain relieving agent prior to, during and after surgery. Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication.
We use pain relief patches for some surgeries as well. Injectable pain medications may also be used during and after surgery on both dogs and cats. 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 nail trimming, 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 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork and make decisions on options available. When you pick up your pet after surgery you should 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.