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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, and we hope the information below will help. It also explains some of the decisions you will need to make before your pet's upcoming surgery.
Today's modern anesthetics and surgical monitoring equipment have made surgery much safer than in the past. At Deer Run Animal Hospital, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, and perform pre-anesthetic blood testing prior to surgery . We will adjust the type and amount of anesthetic used based on the physical exam and blood test results.
Preanesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of complications from anesthetic drugs and other surgical drugs such as post-operative pain medications. Every pet needs blood testing before surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic and these other drugs. 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 may need to be postponed until the problem is corrected.
It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. We will ask you to withhold food for at least 10 to12 hours before surgery. Water can be left down for the pet until the morning of surgery.
Will my pet have stitches or sutures?
Most surgeries will have sutures to close the outer skin layer. Skin sutures are usually removed 10-14 days after surgery. We will often also place absorbable sutures underneath the skin in the deeper tissues. These deeper sutures will dissolve on their own, We will ask you to keep an eye on the incision for irritation, discharge, or excessive swelling. Most dogs and cats do not lick excessively or chew at the incision, but this is an occasional problem. If licking the sutures is noted, we will recommend the placement of a protective collar or cone to prevent this behavior. You will also need to limit your pet's activity level and not bathe your pet until after suture removal in 10-14 days.
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 we believe that they still feel it. Pain medications prescribed for your pet will depend on the surgery performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.
Most surgical patients will start on pain medications via injectable medications prior to surgery even starting. Most will also receive additional pain medications, by injections prior to recovery from general anesthesia. These injectable medications may be narcotic pain medications or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications or NSAIDs. For dogs, we may continue NSAID or narcotic pain medications orally for several days after surgery to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use newer medications, which are unlikely to cause stomach upset, however we suggest that oral pain medications be given with meals to lessen stomach upset risk. We wil ask you to call if decreased appetite or vomiting is noted while taking pain medications.