Little Critters Veterinary Hospital,
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 monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Little Critters 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. The handout on anesthesia explains this in greater detail.
Pre-anesthetic 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.
All of our patients receive IV fluids throughout the procedure to stabilize and control their blood pressure and deliver medications such as pain control.
We complete in-house blood testing before surgery to ensure that your pet is safe and ready for surgery. The blood work ensures effective and functions liver values to process anesthesia. 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 for at least 8 to 10 hours before surgery (cats & dogs). Water can be left down for the pet until the morning of surgery. Do not pull food from rabbits or rodents.
All of our surgery and anesthesia patients will have a dedicated nurse to continuously monitor their vitals throughout the procedure and ensure their safety. In addition, we use equipment monitors to watch blood pressure, oxygen saturation in the blood, co2 levels, temperature, respiration, and ekg. We do everything we can to keep them safe and provide a great outcome.
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 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 or discharge. 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.
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. We at Little Critters Veterinary Hospital take pain control and comfort very seriously and thus provide preop, intraop and post op multimodal pain control.
For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflammatory the day after surgery and 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 have to be careful about the types of medications used. 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, we also provide intra operative pain control and a 24 hours pain injection for the night following surgery as well as go home meds.
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. This is especially important if the person dropping the pet off for surgery is not the primary decision maker for the pet's care. For our large and giant dog we recommend gastropexy at the time or a neuter or spay to prevent bloat later in life.
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 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 contact us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery. Please do not offer food after 10pm the night prior to surgery for cats and dogs but always keep water available. For our rabbits and rodents do not withdrawal food.
For more information see our Dog Care PAGE