WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR PET'S UPCOMING 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 patient monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. ALL surgical patients at the Feline Medical Center have constant intra-operative monitoring of all of their vital parameters (ECG, Heart Rate, Blood Oxygen Concentration, Respiration, Blood Pressure and Body Temperature). Here at the Feline Medical Center, we do preanesthetic testing as well as a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthesia to ensure that a fever or other medical abnormalities won't be a problem. We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet or as dictated by the lab test results. The handout on anesthesia explains this in greater detail.
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 handle or properly metabolize the anesthetic. Preanesthesia testing also allows us to ensure that blood is able to clot appropriately. 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 a 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.
We offer three levels of in-house blood testing before surgery, which we will go over with you when you bring your pet in. Our doctor prefers the more comprehensive screen, because it gives 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 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 and topical tissue adhesive. These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later. Some surgeries, especially large tumor removals, do require skin stitches (sutures) or skin staples. With any type of skin closure, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or creamy discharge. Most dogs and cats do not lick excessively or chew at the incision, but this is an occasional problem, more likely with skin sutures or staples, which 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 identical 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. Local and systemic pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than smaller surgeries like minor laceration repair.
Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetometophen (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 medication injections 10 minutes prior to surgery. After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis. Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication.
We may use narcotic patches for some surgeries in cats and dogs as well. The cost will depend on the strength of the patch used. Injectable pain medications may also be used after surgery on both dogs and cats. 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. 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, it will take 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out the paperwork and make decisions on 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. Written post-operative care instructions are always available.
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 call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.