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What You Need to Know Before Your Pet's Upcoming Surgery
Many people have questions about various aspects of their pet's surgery. Our staff is happy to answer any questions you may have.
Depending on the procedure being done, most animals are taken off of food and water, the night before surgery. As a rule of thumb, food is taken away at 8 p.m. and water can be left out until midnight. Often the patient is brought in to the clinic at 9:00 a.m.. Our staff can let you know what time to expect you animal will be ready to return home.
Is the anesthetic safe?
Any time a patient is put under anesthetic, there are risks. Head for the Hills Veterinary Health Services uses modern anesthesia techniques including gas anesthetics, and we have qualified staff monitoring the patient. Often monitoring tools such as a pulse oximeter are used to help us be aware of the patient's oxygen level and heart rate while under anesthetic. We examine your pet to assess his/her health status before administering anesthetics. We can provide pre-anestheic blood panels to assess the body's organ function and ability to metabolize the drugs. IV fluids are also beneficial for your pet while under general anesthesia. Once we have assessed the patient's health status, we create an anesthetic plan that best suits the individual's needs.
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 keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge. Some dogs and cats will try to lick or chew at the incision which can lead to infection or even life-threatening dehiscence. We may recommend an E-Collar (a cone) to prevent licking. If an E-collar is recommended, it is important to leave it on the entire length of time directed by the surgeon. If there are skin sutures or non dissolveable sutures, these will usually be removed 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. We want to ensure that our patients are kept comfortable! Proper pain control allows for quicker healing times. Pain medications administered will depend on the surgery performed, and pain medication is given on a case by case basis. Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication.
How long will my pet have to wear its cone?
Your pet must wear its cone for at least 7-10 days following surgery. The cone prevents them from licking their incision site. Licking of the incision site can cause a bacterial infection because your pets mouth is very dirty so having them "lick it clean" is not a option. Also the stitches that have been placed are absorbable so too much trauma can cause them to let go then the pet could have direct access to its abdomen contents which would require immediate attention. Sutures begin to absorb around the 5-7 day mark and this can be very uncomfortable for the animal but this the most important time for the cone to be on because the animal will want to lick. The cone is a temporary accessory that can be taken off once the animal's surgery site has fully healed.
What is the benefit of IV surgical fluids?
IV surgical fluids is when we place an IV catheter and fluids in a animals leg, this allows us to have fluids hooked up during the entire surgical procedure. Having this direct access allows us to administer pain medication, emergency medication and fluid therapy. Pain medication given IV will give the animal comfort with in seconds of administration and make them more stable under anesthesia. Emergency medication needs to be administered as fast as possible for the patients well being so having that IV will speed up the process significantly. Fluids will allow an increase in blood pressure through out the surgery and will replace any blood loss the patient may have in surgery. Fluid administration allows other organs in the body to have appropriate blood flow and circulation allowing the sedation properties to leave the body more readily and your pet will recover faster and able to go home sooner.
What is the benefits of doing pre-surgical blood work?
Diagnostic testing prior to administering anesthetic helps minimize risk and ensure the best medical care possible. Testing helps determine the optimal pre anesthetic and post operative medications, identify unseen disease, provide surgical peace of mind, establish a healthy baseline value if your animal was ever to get sick in the future and evaluate your pets ability to metabolize and remove medications from the body.
Please feel free to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.