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 monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Emergency Veterinary Clinic - Okaloosa Walton, Inc. 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 may also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet and they type of surgery needed.
Preanesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia. When possible, every pet should have 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 will handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV fluids during surgery. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
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. Most surgeries performed at Emergency Veterinary Clinic-Okaloosa Walton, Inc., do require skin stitches. With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge. Many animals lick or chew at the incision, so this is an occasional problem you will also need to watch for, and a Elizabethan Collar ("cone") will be provided prior to discharge from most surgeries. 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.
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 several days after 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. After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis. Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication.
We use narcotic pain medications for some surgeries in dogs as well. The cost will depend on the size of the dog. 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?