What You Need to Know Before 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 agents and monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at University Animal Clinic, we do a physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics. We adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health, age and breed of your pet.
We recommend lab testing as it is important in managing the overall health of your pet, including the use of anesthesia. Older patients generally have additional anesthetic concerns, but even apparently healthy animals can have serious organ system problems that cannot be detected without lab testing. We carefully monitor patients during and after anesthetic procedures and provide fluid therapy as needed.
Dental disease is common in our pets, especially as they age. The management of dental disease usually involves the use of anesthesia for adequate evaluation and treatment. Many pet owners are rightfully concerned about the risk involved for their pet. Although risk can not be completely eliminated, if the pet is generally healthy for their age and breed, the risks are minimal and the benefits can be substantial. We would be happy to discuss any questions or concerns you might have about anesthesia for your pet.
We offer various levels of in-house lab tests, which we will go over with you when you bring your pet in. Our doctors prefer the more comprehensive screen, because it gives them the most information to help care for your pet. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood and urine tests or x-rays may be recommended 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 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.
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 and cats we may recommend an oral anti-inflammatory the day after surgery and several days after to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use newer prescription medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset and other problems.
Because pets, especially cats, do not tolerate over-the-counter pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, we do not recommend these products. Veterinary labeled pain medications have allowed for better and safer pain control in our patients. We administer a pain injection 10 minutes 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.
What other decisions do I need to make?
While your pet is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other procedures, such as dentistry, ear cleaning, "lump" removal 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 and make decisions on the blood testing and other options available. It is important to leave a day time phone number where you can be reached. 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.
Drop off for surgery is between 7:30 am to 9:00 am. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery 903-566-2212.