What You Need to Know Before Your Pet's Upcoming Procedure or Surgery
Many people have questions about various aspects of their pet's procedure, and we hope this information will help. It also explains the decisions you will need to make before your pet's upcoming procedure. Intradermal allergy testing typically only requires a mild sedative to comfortably and successfully perform this procedure in dogs and cats. Procedures requiring a sedative and/or general anesthesia include biopsies, tumor removal, video-otoscopy, otic procedures (laser, tumor removal, ear flush/cleaning), and laser surgery.
Is the anesthetic safe?
Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at AVSAC, we do a thorough 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. The handout on anesthesia explains this in greater detail.
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. 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 dysfunctions 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.
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?
We use absorbable sutures that will dissolve on their own if they are not removed. However, our Doctors prefer to remove them so that they can determine that normal and appropriate healing has occurred after the procedure and without complication. After the procedure, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling, redness or discharge and notify us immediately should this occur. 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. Skin sutures 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 7 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 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.
Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, 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 10 minutes prior to surgery. After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis. Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication.
The cost of pain medication depends on the size of the dog or cat. 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.
What other decisions do I need to make?
Be sure not to feed anything after 10 pm the night before the procedure. WATER IS OK. When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork, sign an anesthesia/surgery consent form and make decisions on any additional testing and other options that may be required. When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan to spend about 10-15 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs. BE SURE TO LEAVE US WITH THE MOST APPROPRIATE CONTACT PHONE NUMBER BEFORE YOU LEAVE.
We will call you before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm the time you will be dropping your pet off (IF YOU ARE DROPPING 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 procedure.