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Independence Veterinary Hospital
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 Independence Veterinary Hospital, your pet is examined prior to administering anesthesia to help determine if any visible health condition or illness is present. We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet. The handout on anesthesia explains this in greater detail.
Pre-anesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia. Blood Testing prior to surgery helps to determine if the pet's 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. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is identified and corrected. Pre-anesthetic blood testing is required for any pet 3 years of age or older and is optional for pets less than 3 years of age. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms or x-rays may be required prior to surgery as well.
What do I do about food and water prior to surgery?
It is important that your pet's stomach be empty prior to surgery to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. You will need to withhold food after 10PM the night before surgery. Water can be left down for your pet until the morning of surgery.
Will there be stitches?
Most surgeries will require sutures in the skin. For some 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 monitor 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 watch . 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 while the sutures are in place. No baths are allowed while the sutures are in place.
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 procedures such as minor lacerations.
Your pet will receive an injection of pain-relief medication on the day of surgery. For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflammatory medication beginning the day after surgery and continuing for several days in order to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset.
Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, we are limited in what we can give them. Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before. We administer a pain injection 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.
Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is a humane and caring thing to do for your pet.
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, you will need to 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork and make decisions on blood testing and other options available. Please note: If your pet is 3 years of age or older, blood testing is NOT optional. 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. It is important to remember that YOU are in charge of your pet's nursing care after your pet has been discharged. You may need to prepare for your pet's home care with such items as Elizabethan collars (cone collars), lick deterrents or clothing (T-shirts, socks, etc). Rebandaging, resuturing and/or repairing a surgical site due to a pet's interference is done at owner expense. Please ask whatever questions that you may have regarding your pet's home care so that you are able to give your pet the appropriate nursing care that it will require.
We will call you one to two days prior to your pet's scheduled surgery appointment to confirm the time you will be dropping off your pet and to answer any questions that you might have. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.