Clearview Animal Hospital,
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 Clearview Animal Hospital, a thorough physical exam is performed on your pet before administering anesthetics. We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet. Every animal anesthetized at Clearview Animal Hospital is monitored throughout by a dedicated anesthetist; as your pet's vital parameters change during an anesthetic procedure, the anesthesia can be adjusted and additional medications administered as needed.
Pre-anesthetic 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 and that the body systems are in good shape to allow healing from the surgical event. 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. Animals that have 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.
For elective procedures, pre-anesthetic lab work will be required. Which lab work is needed depends on the individual health needs of the pet and the expected duration and extent of the procedure. When you bring your pet in for a pre-surgical consult, our doctors will discuss the needed lab work with you, and it can be performed either that day or closer to the time of surgery. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may also be required before surgery.
It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. For most pets, 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 underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own and do not need to be removed later. Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, do require skin stitches. With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge. Many dogs and cats will lick or chew at a surgical incision, causing complications in healing that can required additional care and even repeat surgeries; to avoid this, we recommend that your pet wear a protective collar ("cone of shame") until healing is complete. If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed 14 days after surgery. You will also need to limit your pet's activity level for a time and no baths are allowed for those 14 days.
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, after injections prior to and during surgery to prevent and control pain, we may recommend an oral anti-inflammatory the day after surgery and for several days following to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset or damage to the kidneys and liver.
Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications as well as many other animals, 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 injection prior to or during surgery. After surgery, pain medication is chosen on an individual basis.
Additional oral pain medications may be appropriate after surgery, depending on the health of your pet. Providing appropriate pain relief is a humane and caring thing to do for your pet. However, many over-the-counter pain medications intended for use in humans are NOT SAFE for dogs and cats, particularly if your pet is already receiving medications. Please do not give additional medications without discussing it with our doctors.
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 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 contact us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.