Dogs Cats Exotics
What You Need to Know Before Your Pet's Upcoming 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 medications and monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Belton Animal Clinic & Exotic Care Center, 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 should have blood testing before surgery to ensure that the body 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 corrected.
We offer in-house blood testing before surgery, which we will go over with you when you bring your pet in. A complete blood cell count is performed on every surgical patient to screen for anemia, dehydration and infection. A more complete pre-surgical screen which includes liver and kidney values and checks electrolytes is optional. Our doctors prefer the more comprehensive screen, because it gives them the most information to ensure the safety of your pet. For some geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery as well.
Another option to make anesthesia safer is placement of an intravenous (IV) catheter and IV fluid administration. An IV catheter allows fluids to be administered throughout the procedure supporting blood pressure and hydration. Patients that receive IV fluids are often more stable through the procedure and recover from anesthesia more quickly. An IV catheter also allows for quicker administration of additional medications if complications arise.
It is important that surgery in dogs and cats 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. We do not fast birds, small mammals ( rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets) and reptiles prior to surgery and any special instructions will be given to you prior to the procedure.
Will my pet have stitches ( also known as sutures)?
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 stitches. With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling, redness or discharge. Most pets will be sent home with an elizabethan collar (cone on their head) on to keep them from licking at the suture site. Please keep this collar on at all times until at least 2 weeks after surgery. 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 (no free running, jumping or stairs) and for dogs leash walk only until sutures are removed. No baths are allowed until after the sutures are removed.
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.
For dogs we administer a pain injection 10 to 20 minutes prior to surgery. We will give an oral anti-inflamatory the evening of surgery and for several days after 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.
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 10 minutes 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.
Injectable pain medications may also be used after surgery on all dogs, cats, and exotics if neccasary 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, tonometry, urinalysis with ultrasound 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 to have 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 to 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.