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.
What do I need to know in advance to prepare my pet for surgery?
For most species 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 after midnight the night prior to surgery. Water can be left down for the pet until the morning of surgery. Exceptions include rabbits and rodents who can have food up until they are dropped off the morning of surgery and birds who should only have food withheld for 6 hours prior to surgery.
Unless medically contraindicated all dogs, cats and ferrets must be current on core vaccines prior to admission to the hospital. This is to protect your pet as well as others hospitalized patients from infectious disease. For dogs this includes Rabies, DA2P-Parvovirus and Bordetella. For cats Rabies, Feline Distemper and Upper-respiratory vaccine (FVRCP) are required and ferrets will need Rabies and Distemper. A hospital team member can assist you in determining if your pet?s immunizations are sufficient.
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.
What should I expect the day of surgery?
Generally, we ask that all surgeries be admitted to the hospital between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. the day of the procedure. At this time the veterinary technician or assistant will provide you with a written healthcare plan that includes cost and answer any additional questions you may have about your pet's procedure. You should allow 10 to 15 minutes of time to complete the admissions paperwork and make decisions on pre-anesthetic blood testing and other options available.
Surgical cases and other hospitalized cases are treated in order of priority deemed best by the veterinarian on duty. For day surgeries you should plan for your pet to be hospitalized all day. A technician or doctor will call you with any updates or when your pet?s procedure is complete. As patients must take precedence over telephone calls do not hesitate to contact our inpatient staff if you have not received a telephone call by 3:30 or 4:00 p.m.
At the time of pick-up you should plan to allow 15 minutes for discharge. The receptionist will check you out and then the appropriate hospital team member will go over your written discharge instructions and any medications that your pet might need. This will be a time for you to ask any questions that you might have regarding your pet?s procedure.
Is the anesthetic safe?
Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Westgate Pet & Bird 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.
Pre-anesthetic 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 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. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
In most cases pre-anesthetic blood-screening can be done in the hospital laboratory the day of the surgery. If, due to age or health concerns the doctor recommends more comprehensive testing an appointment will be scheduled for you a few days 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 do require skin stitches and this will be noted for you on your written discharge instructions. 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 excessive licking becomes a problem an Elizabethan collar will be fitted for your pet.
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 or until the sutures are removed.
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. The type of pain medication needed will depend on the surgery performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.
The level of pain management and the medications used will be tailored to your pet's needs based on the species and the procedure done. We use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset. The cost of pain management generally runs $25 to $45 and includes medications given in the hospital pre- and post-operatively as well as any medications that may be sent home with you.
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 ear cleaning, nail trimming or implanting an identification microchip. If you would like an estimate for these extra services, please call ahead of time or ask the technician who admits your pet the day of surgery. This is especially important if the person dropping the pet off for surgery is not the primary decision maker for the pet's care.