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?
Modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. At Mercy Animal Hospital, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics. 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. Even healthy animals can have serious organ problems that cannot be detected without blood testing. It is better for the health of the pet to find out, 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 will be postponed.
We offer in-house blood testing before surgery, which we can discuss when you bring your pet in. Our doctors prefer the more comprehensive screen, because it gives them 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 and aspiration pneumonia 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 require non-absorbable sutures. With either type of suture, you will need to check the incision for swelling, redness or discharge. Chewing and licking at the incision site can be easily prevented by using an Elizabethan collar. If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed in 10 to 14 days after surgery. You will also need to limit your pet's activity level for this 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. But you can be sure they feel it. Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed.
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. It is always best for you to admit your pet to the hospital; however, this becomes especially important if the person bringing the pet for surgery is not the primary decision maker.
When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need to 10 to 15 minutes to complete the necessary paperwork and make decisions about the pre-surgical blood panel and other options available. (For your convenience you may find the surgical admit form under the forms tab on your left-subtab pdf files). 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 and written discharge instructions. We will call you the night before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm the time you will be admitting your pet and to answer any questions you may have. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.