What You Need to Know Before 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 drugs and monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Cornerstone Veterinary Clinic, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering any 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.
Pre-anesthetic blood testing in older pets is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia. Every pet two years of age and older 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. Animals that have minor dysfunction 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 before surgery as well.
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 after 7pm the day before surgery. Water can be left down for the pet even on the morning of surgery. For exotic pets and diabetic animals call our clinic for special instructions. If your pet takes a daily medication or needs oral sedation for exams, call and ask us if and when you should give the medication.
Will my pet have stitches?
For dog male neuter surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed. Male cats will not have sutures after neutering. Most other surgeries, including spays and tumor removals, do require skin stitches. With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge, and make sure your pet is not licking the area. If licking is noted, your pet may need an E collar (lamp shade type cone) to prevent licking. 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 14 days 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. Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed. We will do our best to prevent and manage your pet's discomfort. If you feel your pet is painful, please call our office. Most young puppies and kittens having routine spay or neuter surgery will not show any signs of discomfort.
Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is a humane and caring thing to do for your pet. We will go over pain medicine directions when you take your pet home. Please contact us before giving your pet any human medications because some of these can be very toxic to animals, especially cats.
What other decisions do I need to make?
While your pet is under anesthesia, it may be the ideal time to perform other procedures, such as dentistry, ear cleaning, removing small warts, getting an x-ray 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. Dental procedures cannot be combined with all types of surgery; please call our office for more information.
When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need 15 to 20 minutes of your time to examine your pet and make decisions on any optional procedures. When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan to spend about 20 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs.
We will call you 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.