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 Furry Friends Veterinary 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 health of your pet. The handout on anesthesia explains this in greater detail.
Preanesthetic 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 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.
We offer twolevels of blood testing prior to surgery. We will work with you to select the best match for your particular pet. In general, emergency surgeries will get a full cbc and chemistry performed in house. Young , apparently healthy animals will generally match best with our basic preanesthetic panel the junior wellness. Pets over seven generally need the senior wellness panel which is a bit more comprehensive. Both the junior and senior wellness panels can be performed they day of surgery. In some cases, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery as well. Details on what is included in each panel and what it might mean are available by clicking on the diagnostic testing link.
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, 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. 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 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 after suture removal whichever comes last.
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. For many years veterinarians failed (and some still do fail) to provide adequate pain control to their pateints under the misguided belief that pain was needed to keep the animal still. In addition, since many animals do not outwardly show signs of wimpering many assumed the animal had a higher pain tolerance than people. New information measuring heart rates, cortisol levels etc. have proven that animals not only feel pain as we do they heal better and faster when that pain is under control. The type of pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed. Obviously, major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.
In most cases, we may dispense an oral anti-inflamatory for several days after surgery 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. Rest assured that your cat will be provided with pre and post surgical pain control. Easy to administer post surgical pain medications will be sent home to help keep your kitty comfortable.
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. If the surgery will be performed in your driveway, we will come get you when your pet has recovered. We will go over aftercare instructions with you. If the surgery will be performed when we are stationary on Wednesday, please be sure to give us an emergency contact number where we can reach you at all times while your pet is with us in case we need to ask a question about your pet's health. 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. You have spent the time and money to allow us to provide your pet with the best care while he or she was with us; we want to make sure you understand how to follow up on that care at home. Please do not be afraid to ask any questions about after care even if they may seem silly. In general, you can expect that your pet will need to be kept inside and have limited activity for a period of time post operatively.
We will call you the night before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm the time 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.