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.
What do I need to do prior to my pet's surgery?
Your primary responsibility prior to your pet's surgical appointment is to make sure he or she has no access to food after 9 PM the night before surgery. It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. Water can be left down for the pet until the morning of surgery.
Is the anesthetic safe?
Although the risk inherent with anesthesia can never be completely eliminated, today's modern anesthetic drugs and monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Sunray Animal Clinic, 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 size, age, and health of your pet.
Pre-anesthetic blood testing is available to further reduce the risks associated with anesthesia. Blood testing before surgery helps ensure that the liver and kidneys (the organs primarily responsible for clearing anesthetic drugs from the body) can handle the anesthesia. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected. Animals that have more minor issues can be given fluids during surgery to help them handle the anesthetic better. It is possible for even apparently healthy animals to have serious underlying organ system problems that cannot be detected without blood testing, so for this reason we recommend pre-anesthetic blood work for all our surgical patients.
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. For those surgeries that do require stitches or skin staples, we will schedule your pet to come back for suture removal 10 to 14 days after surgery.
With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on your pet's 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 your pet is a licker, we can provide you with a plastic Elizabethan collar to prevent this. 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?
Providing appropriate pain relief is a humane and caring thing to do for your pet. Our pain management protocols start with the drugs your pet is given even before the surgery begins, continue through the surgical procedure itself, and extend to the post-surgical recovery phase and beyond.
Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations. Typically we will send patients home with an oral anti-inflammatory for the days following surgery to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset and can provide 24-hour relief. Injectable pain medications may also be used during and after surgery on both dogs and cats. Additional pain medication may be prescribed on a case by case basis - any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication.
What else do I need to know?
While your pet is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures, such as ear cleaning, nail trimming, or implanting an identification microchip. If you would like an estimate for these extra services, please call ahead of time and we will be happy to provide you with one.
When you bring your pet in for surgery, please allow 15 to 20 minutes of time to fill out paperwork, make decisions about blood testing and other options available, and speak with the doctor who will be admitting your pet. When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan to spend about 10 minutes going over dispensed medications (if any) and a discharge instruction handout describing 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.
"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."