What You Need to Know Before Your Pet's Scheduled 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 Animal Clinic of Sturgeon Bay, 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.
Preanesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia. Blood testing is recommended 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. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery.
It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. Unless directed otherwise, you will need to withhold food and water for at least 10 to 12 hours prior to surgery.
Will my pet have stitches?
For some surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later. However, many surgeries 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 for which you will need to call us if it occurs. 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 10-14 days, or more, after surgery. The doctor who meets with you when your pet is dismissed following surgery will discuss all of these issues and more. Additionally, you will be given an information form that outlines post-surgical care for your pet.
Will my pet be in pain?
Each doctor and staff member of the Animal Clinic of Sturgeon Bay is passionate about pain management for our patients. 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 may not always whine or cry, but you can be sure they will feel pain, especially if they are not receiving appropriate pain management. All of our surgical patients are dismissed with appropriate pain medications for their post-surgical needs. Pain management is individually assessed and appropriate pain medication is dispensed for each surgical patient.
Both dogs and cats receive an injection for pain prior to surgery, and they will continue receiving pain medication for 10 days, or more, following surgery. Typical human pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, are not regarded as safe for dogs or cats, or adequate for appropriately controlling post-surgical pain, during and after their hospitalization. Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control than ever before.
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 about 15-20 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 about 15 minutes with a doctor who will explain the surgical procedure and post-surgical home care needs for your pet.
We will call you the day before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm the admission examination appointment 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.