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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 Animal Health Care of Myerstown, 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. It is recommended that every pet get bloodwork testing before surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic. Our office only requires this if your pet is 7 years of age or older.
Since anesthetics are removed from the body through the kidneys and/or liver, it is important to know that internal organ function and blood values are within normal limits. Abnormal finding allow us to make the best recommendations for your pet to ensure its quickest return to normal.
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.
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 12 hours before surgery. Water can be offered to your pet up until the time of the procedure.
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 redness, 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 14 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.
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.
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 the morning of surgery.
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 ear cleaning, nail trims, heartworm testing, or implanting an identification microchip. If you would like an estimate for these extra services, one can be provided for you.
When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need 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.