Veterinary Services at Your Animal Hospital

Surgical FAQs

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 this information will help. It also explains the decisions you will need to make before your pet's upcoming surgery.

Learn how Your Animal Hospital cares for animals undergoing surgery

Is the anesthetic safe for my pet?

Modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Your local veterinarian will do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics. This exam will ensure that a fever or other illness won't be a problem during surgery.

Pre-anesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of Anesthesia. Blood testing before surgery is recommended to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic. Even 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. We administer IV fluids to patients during most of our anesthetic procedures. This is a critical part of the process that will keep patients hydrated throughout the procedure.

If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery. 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 12 hours before 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, but you can be sure they feel it. To help ease the pain of surgical procedures, pain medications should be prescribed by your veterinarian. Pain management is factored into every procedure for the comfort of the patient, and to speed the recovery process. This may involve a postoperative injection which will help keep your pet comfortable upon waking, and to ensure a restful night's sleep at home.

When deemed necessary by the doctor, medication for the next few days is also included. Major procedures may require more pain relief. For dogs, oral anti-inflammatory medication may be recommended for the day after surgery and several days after to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before. Newer medications are typically used since they are less likely to cause stomach upset, and can be given even the morning of surgery. After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis. Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication.

At no time should you give your pet human medication unless directed by a veterinarian.

Learn how Your Animal Hospital deals with pain management for pets undergoing surgery
Post surgery medications for your pet are easier to administer with food

Will my pet have stitches?

For certain surgeries, absorbable sutures underneath the skin are used. 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 you will also need to watch for. 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.

Learn about other decisions you may need to make for your pet during surgery
Learn what surgeries may require stitches 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 dentistry, ear cleaning, or implanting an identification microchip. If you would like an estimate for these extra services, please call your clinic ahead of time. This is especially important if the person dropping the pet off for surgery is not the primary decision maker for the pet's care.