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What You Need to Know Before Your Pet's Upcoming Anesthesia or 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 anesthesia safe?
Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Lyndon Veterinary Clinic we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, to ensure that a fever or other illness will not 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 needs blood testing before surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can process 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 dysfunctions 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.
All animals receive an IV catheter and fluids throughout the procedure to maintain proper hydration and improve processing of the anesthetic. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery.
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. Water can be left down until the morning of surgery.
Will my pet have stitches?
Many surgeries, especially tumor removals, require skin sutures. For some surgeries, absorbable sutures are placed underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later. 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 the time recommended in order to ensure proper healing. Animals can not be bathed until after their suture removal and recheck.
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 may not 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.
We often use an anti-inflammatory and possibly a narcotic in order to achieve the best pain management by intercepting pain on different levels. The anti-inflammatory helps to reduce discomfort and swelling. The narcotic or opiod medication works on receptors in the central nervous system to reduce pain sensation. After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis. Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication.
What other decisions do I need to make?
While your cat or dog is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures, such as dental cleanings, small mass removals, ear cleaning or microchipping. 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 cat or dog 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 dog or cat after surgery you can also plan to spend about 10 to 15 minutes to go over your animal's home care needs.
We will call you the night before your scheduled surgery appointment to confirm the time you will be dropping your animal 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.