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 Township Line Animal Hospital, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, to evaluate for any health problems. We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health and individual needs of your pet.
Because even apparently healthy animals can have serious organ system problems that cannot be detected without testing, we require current blood work on every pet before surgery to evaluate organ function. If serious problems are detected, surgery may need to be postponed until the problem is corrected. In specific circumstances, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery as well, and we will discuss the reason for these and how they help your pet.
When appropriate, we can perform other minor procedures during anesthesia, such as routine teeth cleanings, ear cleaning, or implanting an identification microchip.
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 underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later. Some surgeries do require skin stitches. With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge. We frequently will send your pet home with an Elizabethan Collar ("E-collar" or "Cone of Shame") to prevent them pulling stitches out or irritating and infecting the incision through licking. 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, or until the stitches are removed.
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. Studies in both animals and people show that pain slows the healing process, and pain medications will be tailored to the the needs of each pet individually. Dogs and cats do not tolerate our over-the-counter pain medications well (drugs such as Ibuprofen and Tylenol can actually kill pets), and so we will prescribe and send home medication shown to be safe and effective in animals.
What happens the day of surgery?
When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork. 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. While with us, they will stay in the central, most trafficked part of our hospital so they can be continuously monitored before, during, and after the procedure by experienced, compassionate staff.
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.
We know many people will be anxious about their furry loved ones, so we will call and update you once your pet is safely in recovery.