PREPARING FOR YOUR PET'S 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.
1. What should my pet eat prior to surgery?
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.
2. Why can't my pet go home right after surgery?
After surgery your pet is monitored by a technician until they are awake and able to go back into their kennel. Later in the day the dogs are walked and the cats are given litter pans for the evening. If appropriate, they are offered water and some of our smallest patients are offered a tiny bit of food to prevent hypoglycemia. After all of this excitement most patients are ready to settle down for the evening. We like to keep them until the next day because we know they are in a controlled environment and will get a good night's rest! Once we return at 7am all the dogs get walked and the cats get clean litter pans. Then they all get breakfast and a quick check of their surgical incisions by our staff. If, at any time, we feel your pet would be better off with 24 hour monitoring we would recommend taking them to the NWPEC overnight.
3. Is the anesthetic safe?
Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Animal Ark and Animal Kingdom, 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 and size of your pet. Preanesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia. Every pet should have 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 with out blood work. If there is a problem, it is much better to find it before it causes anesthetic or surgical complications. Animals that have minor problems 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.
4. Will my pet have stitches, staples or glue?
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 sutures. With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge. The third option is tissue glue which is used mostly with small dogs or cats, closing the small skin incisions after using the absorbable sutures subcutaneously. 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.
5. 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, we may recommend an oral anti-inflammatory the day after surgery and several days following to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset and can be given even the morning of surgery. The cost of the medication ranges from $10 to $30, depending on the size of your dog. Because cats and dogs do not metabolize medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol the same as humans do; 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 10 minutes prior to surgery. After surgery, pain medication is determined on a case by case basis. We use narcotic patches for some surgeries in dogs as well. The cost will depend on the size of the dog. Injectable pain medications may also be used after surgery on both dogs and cats. Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is a humane and caring thing to do for your pet.
6. 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 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.
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. We can schedule this "go home" appointment either when you call to schedule the surgery or when we admit your pet for surgery.
We will call you the day before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm the time you will be bringing your pet in. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.