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 anaesthetic safe?
Today's modern anaesthetic drugs and monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at the Belmont Vet Centre, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anaesthetics, 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.
Preanesthetic blood testing is important in minimising risks associated with anaesthesia. If there is a problem, it is much better to find it before it causes anaesthetic or surgical complications. Animals who have minor dysfunctions will handle the anaesthetic better if they receive IV fluids during surgery. We perform some standard screening tests on all our surgical patients at no cost to you. If these show abnormalities, we recommend further tests to fully work up any issues. If there are concerns, we discuss with you how we can correct the abnormalities or minimise risks as need be, before performing anaesthesia. All our patients are given intravenous fluids before, during and after any anaesthesia to maximise their safety and give them the best recovery possible.
It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anaesthesia. You will need to withhold food for at least 8 to 10 hours before surgery. Water can be left down for your pet until the morning of surgery.
Will my pet have stitches?
All surgeries require sutures, and for most of our patients these are skin sutures. For some surgeries, and for patients who wouldn't like being handled for removal of their stitches, we use absorbable sutures, often underneath the skin. 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 7 to 10 days after surgery. You will also need to limit your pet's activity level for a time and no baths are allowed until stitches are out.
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. What pain medications are required will depend primarily on the surgery performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.
For all procedures, we give pre-operative pain relief which last well into the post-operative period. We also give post-operative injections that last 24-48 hours. For many procedures this is all that is required to ensure your pet is comfortable, and the cost is absorbed into our costs. For more involved surgeries, ongoing pain relief is required. This is determined on an case-by-case basis, and you will receive the medicine to take home to keep your pet comfortable.
We are constantly assessing the pain relief we provide our patients, depending on advances in drugs that are available, our experience with what we use, and individual patient responses to procedures and drugs. As such, what one pet may have had at one point may not be what another receives, but you can be sure we are giving the best possible care following scientific advances and our experience.
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, answer any questions you might have and ensure the day will go smoothly. 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.
In the meantime, please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.