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 Middle River Veterinary Hospital, 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. Every pet needs blood testing 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. In many cases, we can adjust the amount and kind of anesthesia for patients with minor dysfunctions. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
We offer two levels of in-house blood testing before surgery, which we will go over with you when you bring your pet in. We require the more comprehensive screen for older animals and those that are ill, because it gives us the most information to ensure the safety of your pet. 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. Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, do require skin stitches. If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery. After surgery, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge. Some dogs and cats will lick excessively or chew at the incision, and they may need an elizabethan collar or bandage to prevent damage to the surgery site. 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; some may whine or cry, but many pets suffer pain quietly. All pets receive pain medication while in the hospital, and most will have medication to take at home for a few days after surgery. 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, we can perform other minor procedures, such as ear cleaning, plucking hair from ear canals, shaving matted fur, or implanting a 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 5 to 10 minutes of your time to fill out the necessary paperwork. When you pick up your pet after surgery, please also plan to spend about 15 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs.
We will call you the night before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm the time you will be dropping your pet off 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.