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 Jamacha Veterinary Clinic, we perform a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics. 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 needs 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 learn about it before it causes anesthetic or surgical complications. Animals that have a minor dysfunction will handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV fluids during surgery. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
We offer three levels of in-house blood testing before surgery. We will discuss these options with you when you bring your pet in. Our doctors prefer the more comprehensive screen, because it provides the most information to ensure the safety of your pet. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, and/or x-rays may be required before surgery.
It is of utmost importance that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. Food will need to withheld food for at least 8 to 10 hours 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. Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, do require skin stitches. With either type of suture you will need to keep an monitor the incision for swelling or discharge. Most dogs and cats do not lick excessively or chew at the incision, however this is an occasional problem you will also need to watch for. Skin sutures are usually removed 10 to 14 days after surgery. It will also be necessary 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 procedures such as minor lacerations.
For dogs, we may recommend an oral pain medication 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.
Injectable pain medications may also be used after surgery on both dogs and cats. Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is a humane and caring thing to do for your pet and we will assist you with these decisions.
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 require at least 5 to 10 minutes of time to complete paperwork and make decisions on the blood testing and other options available. When you pick up your pet after surgery, please be prepared 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 whatsoever about your pet's health or surgery.