What You Need to Know Before Your Pet's Upcoming Surgery
What happens before the surgery?
1) Pre-anesthetic blood testing
Even apparently healthy animals can have serious organ-system problems that cannot be detected without blood testing. Blood testing needs to be performed prior to the day of the procedure to ensure that the liver & kidneys can handle the anesthetic & to look for other serious problems such as anemia. It is better to find a problem before it causes anesthetic or surgical complications. If serious problems are detected, surgery will be postponed until the problem is corrected.
For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery as well.
2) Confirm surgery
We will email & call you the afternoon before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm the time you will be bringing your pet & to answer any questions you might have.
3) Withhold food after 7 p.m. the night before.
It is important that your pet arrives on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during & after anesthesia. Water can be left down for the pet until the morning of surgery.
What happens the day of surgery?
1) Patient check-in
Surgery check-in is between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m. on Tuesdays & Fridays. When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will spend 5 to 10 minutes to address any concerns, answer your questions, walk-through the procedures & treatment plans & get necessary signatures.
2) Phone call(s)
Dr. Gary Stamps, Dr. Sarah Dugan, or a veterinary technician will call when your pet's procedure is finished & your pet is fully awake. Sometimes Dr. Stamps or Dr. Dugan will call during a procedure when additional permissions are needed, such as after a dental x-ray reveals cavities that need to be extracted.
When you pick up your pet after surgery, plan to spend 10 to 15 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs.
Is the anesthetic safe?
We use only the safest available anesthetics to provide an extra margin of safety, especially important for our older or high-risk patients. Our anesthetic protocols are geared toward patient safety and patient comfort. All anesthetized patients are monitored by a veterinary technician from the moment of induction until they are fully awake and recovered. Using the most modern equipment, we monitor each surgery patient's heart and respiratory rates, blood pressure, EKG, body temperature and arterial oxygen levels (using pulse oximeters).
Will my pet have stitches?
For many surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve & 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 watch the incision site for swelling or discharge. Most dogs & cats do not lick excessively or chew at the incision site but sometimes it is a problem and you will also need to watch for. If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed 14 days after surgery. You will also need to limit your pet's activity level for a time & no baths are allowed for the first 14 days after surgery.
Will my pet be in pain?
Pets may not show the same symptoms of pain as people do - they usually do not cry or whine - but you can be sure they feel it. Anything that causes pain in people can be expected to cause pain in animals. The pain medication your pet will need will depend on the surgery performed. Major procedures such as tumor removals require more pain relief than smaller procedures such as a minor laceration repair. We tailor pain medication protocols on a case-by-case basis.
What other decisions do I need to make?
While your pet is under anesthesia, it is often an ideal time to perform other procedures such as dentistry, ear cleaning, or implanting an identification microchip. If you would like a treatment plan 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.