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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 Sango Veterinary Hospital, 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.
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 are functioning normally, as these organs are most responsible for metabolizing anesthetic medications. Even apparently healthy animals can have serious organ system problems that cannot be detected without blood testing.
For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be recommended before surgery as well.
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.
All animals undergoing general anesthesia will have an IV catheter, IV fluids, and monitoring of heart rate, respiratory, rate, oxygen levels, and blood pressure.
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 recommend the use of an Elizabethan collar ("cone of shame"), T-shirt, or other incision cover to keep pets from licking the incision site. If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed 10 to 14 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. Research has shown that painful animals take longer to heal and have more surgical complications than those that receive pain medications.
We generally prescribe an oral anti-inflammatory and a pain reliever after surgery to decrease both discomfort and swelling.
It is important to remember that over the counter human medications are toxic to dogs and cats and may interfere with the medications we give for pain. Never give your pet any medication without consulting your veterinarian.
What other decisions do I need to make?
While your pet is under anesthesia, it may be the ideal time to perform other minor procedures, such as dentistry, ear cleaning, or placing a microchip.
When you bring your pet in for surgery please be sure to tell us if your pet has had any changes in appetite, attitude, urination, bowel movements, or general health as these may be a reason to postpone an anesthetic procedure.
When you pick up your pet after surgery plan to spend about 10 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs, medication, and dietary instructions.