What You Need to Know Before Your Pet's Upcoming SurgeryMany 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 Northridge Veterinary Center, 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 and life-stage of your pet.
Preanesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia. Most pets need 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. Most animals will be given an IV catheter and fluids during surgery to maintain safety, stability and speed recovery. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
We offer multiple levels of in-house blood testing before surgery, which we will go over with you when you bring your pet in for admission. Our doctors prefer the more comprehensive screen, because it gives them the most information to ensure the safety of your pet. 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 and water for at least 8 to 10 hours before 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 or staples. With either type of suture or staples, 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 will depend on the injury or surgery performed. Major procedures or injuries require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations. Pain management is an area of our practice that we take very seriously. Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is a humane and caring thing to do for your pet.
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. We will be glad to provide an estimate for these services at the time of surgery admission.
When you bring your pet in for surgery, some time will be necessary to fill out paperwork and make decisions on blood testing and other options available. When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan to spend time with the doctor and/or staff to go over your pet's home care needs. Please note, that some pets undergoing surgical procedures do not go home the same day of surgery.
Please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery at any time.
Detailed information on spay and neuter surgeries can be found on our Spay & Neuter Page.