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 Aerowood Animal Hospital, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, to detect underlying issues that could be a problem. Anesthetics are tailored specifically to meet your pet's needs during the procedure. Almost all major surgery and dentistry is done under Isoflurane gas anesthesia .With gas anesthesia, a special tube is placed in the windpipe. This tube allows us to: (1) seal off the airway from potentially vomited fluids; (2) directly administer 100% oxygen to your pet; and (3) precisely control depth of anesthesia at all times during the procedure.
Pre-anesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia. We recommend blood testing before surgery to ensure that your pet is a good candidate for the procedure and 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. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until after the problem is corrected. All animals, especially those with health issues, will handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV fluids during their procedure. IV fluids are recommended for all anesthetic procedures.
We offer different levels of in-house blood testing before surgery, which we will go over with you before surgery or when you bring your pet in. Our doctors prefer the more comprehensive screen, because it gives them the most information to ensure the safety of your pet. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery as well.
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 some surgeries it is appropriate to use absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later. Most surgeries, especially tumor removals and large lacerations, require skin sutures or staples. With either sutures or staples, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge. Many dogs and cats do not lick, chew or scratch at their incisions, but these are potential problems you will also need to watch for. If there are skin sutures or staples, these will usually be removed 12 to 14 days after surgery. You will also need to limit your pet's activity level for several days. No baths are allowed until after sutures or staples 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. 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 for several days after surgery to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use newer medications, with proven safety records, which are less likely to cause stomach upset or other major complications. The cost of the medication ranges from $20 to $50, depending on the size of your dog and number of doses sent.
Because cats do not tolerate many standard pain medications such as used in dogs, 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 generally administer a pain injection 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.
We use narcotic patches for some surgeries in dogs and cats as well. The cost will depend on the size of the patient. 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?
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, you will need 10 to 15 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 5 to 10 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs.
We will call you a day or two 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.