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Vetmobile Housecall Veterinary Service Surgery
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 drugs and monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Vetmobile Housecall Veterinary Service, a thorough physical exam is completed before administering anesthetics, to ensure that a fever or other illness won't cause a problem. The amount and type of anesthetic used will be selected based on the health of your pet. The handout on anesthesia explains this in greater detail.
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. Animals that have minor dysfunction may receive different anesthetic agents tailored to their individual problem. Their IV fluids rate during surgery may also be modified to further support their organs. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
We offer two levels of in-house blood testing before surgery, which we will go over with you when we come to collect your pet. Dr Kraus 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. If you desire, an additional visit may be scheduled to do all of the blood work a few days before the surgical procedure.
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. We will schedule a morning pick-up time for your pet on the day of their 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. 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 for which you will need to watch. 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 14 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 needed will depend on the surgery performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.
For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflammatory the day after surgery and for several additional days to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset and can be given even the morning of surgery.
Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or 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 injection 10 minutes prior to surgery. After surgery, pain medication is given by injection until discharge. At home pain medication is given into the cheek pocket (trans mucosal absorption).
Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication.
We use narcotic patches after some surgeries in addition to oral pain medications. 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 minor 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 at home during pick-up for surgery is not the primary decision maker for the pet's care.
When we pick-up your pet for surgery, we will need 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork and make decisions on the blood testing and other options available. We will need a phone number which will reach you during your pet's stay. After surgery, you can also plan to spend about 10 minutes going over your pet's home care needs.
Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.