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Is the anesthetic safe?
Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Willowbrook Animal Hospital, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics to ensure that a fever or other illness does not exist. We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet.
We advocate the use of pre-anesthetic blood work to screen for any situations that may require us to change our anesthetic protocol for your pet. This testing will indicate the health of your pet before the surgical procedure. Even apparently healthy animals can have serious organ system problems that cannot be detected without this testing.
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.
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 you will also need to watch for. We have Elizabethan pet collars available if needed. 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 those such as minor lacerations.
For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflamatory the day after surgery and several days afterward 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, 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 to be in pain will receive additional pain medication.
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 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 dropping the pet off for surgery is not the primary decision maker for the pet's health care.
When you bring your pet in for surgery, please allow 5 - 10 minutes to provide important information we will need before surgery. When you pick up your pet after surgery please plan to spend additional time to review your pet's home care needs with our staff.
We will call you the night before your scheduled surgery appointment to confirm the time you will be dropping your pet off and to answer any questions you might have. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.