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What You Need to Know Before Surgery
Many clients 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 Bradley Animal 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. Our doctors recommend every pet have blood testing before surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic. They do not require, though until the patient is 6 years or older. 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.
It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. Please 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 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 to allow for healing of the surgery site.
Will my pet be in pain?
Our doctors create an individualized pain management protocol for each patient having surgery. Our team continuously monitors and assesses for pain before, during and after the procedure. You can be assured that we are doing everything we can to keep your pet as comfortable as possible. The doctor will notify you if additional pain medication will be needed after you take your pet home.
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 let us know.
We ask that you allow 10-15 minutes when checking your pet in for surgery. We will have you visit with a team member to review the surgery plan. We will walk you through surgery authorization paperwork and discuss how to contact you throughout the day. 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 day before your scheduled surgery appointment to confirm 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.