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What You Need to Know Before 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 anesthetic safe?
Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Fort Langley Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Mackenzie performs a physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, to ensure that a fever or other illness will not be an issue. We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet.
Pre-anesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia. We recommend blood testing be done before surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic. Even seemingly 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.
We offer laboratory blood testing prior to surgery, which we will discuss with you when you bring your pet in. Depending on the individual pet and the surgical case, Dr. Mackenzie may recommend a more comprehensive screen, because it gives him 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. The fasting instructions differ depending on your pet's requirements and the time of day that the procedure will be performed. We will discuss the these instructions with you prior to your pet's procedure.
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 monitor the incision site 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 days after surgery. Please book an appointment with us for your pet's suture removal.
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 may not whine or cry, but you can be sure that they feel it. Pain medications required will depend on the surgery performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.
Dr. Mackenzie will recommend and prescribe medication for pain relief that is appropriate for your pet.
What other decisions do I need to make?
While your pet is under anesthesia, it may be an ideal time to perform other procedures that Dr. Mackenzie recommends. If you would like an estimate for these extra services, please call and let us know. This is especially important if the person bringing your pet in for surgery is not the primary decision maker for the pet's care.
When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need 5 to 10 minutes of time to discuss the consent form and fill out paperwork and make decisions on other options available.
When you pick up your pet after surgery we will spend 10 to 15 minutes with you to discuss and answer any questions that you may have about your pet's home care needs.
We will call you the night before your pet's scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm the time of your pet's admittance, discuss fasting instructions, and answer any questions that you might have.
In the meantime, please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.