What You Need to Know Before Your Pet's Upcoming Surgery
Many people have questions about various aspects of their pet's surgery, we hope the information in this section will help. It will also explain 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 Washtenaw 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.
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 starting at 12am (midnight) the night before surgery. Water can be left down for the pet until the morning of surgery.
Will my pet have sutures (stitches)?
For many procedures we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own and do not need to be removed later. Some procedures, especially tumor removals, do require traditional sutures. These usually need to be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery. 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 need to watch for. You will also need to limit your pet's activity level for a time and no baths are allowed for the first 10 to 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, often there are little or no physical signs, but with many procedures there is a reasonable expectation of discomfort. Pain medications needed will depend on the procedure performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.
For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflammatory for several days after the procedure 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 many standard pain medications we are more limited in what we can give them. However, recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before. Post-surgical pain medication is given on a case by case basis.
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.
When you bring your pet in for surgery please allow 5 to 15 minutes for intake. When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan to spend 5 to 15 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs.
We will call you the day 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 call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.