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Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Grove Center Veterinary Hospital, we do a thorough physical examination on your pet before administering anesthetics, to ensure that an existing underlying illness won't be a problem. We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet.
Are pre-anesthetic tests really needed?
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 tests. If there is a problem, it is better to find it before it causes anesthetic or surgical complications. If serious issues are detected, surgery can be postponed until such time as the problems are corrected.
Several levels of screening are available. The one chosen for your pet is based on many factors, including age, gender, and procedure contemplated. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood testing protocols, electrocardiograms, blood pressure testing, or radiographs may be indicated before surgery as well.
Is my pet kept on an IV during surgery?
All animals receive IV fluids during surgery. Those with minor dysfunction will handle the anesthetic and stress of surgery better. In addition, although complications of any nature are rare (thanks in part to pre-anesthetic testing), they are more easily and safely handled with an IV already in place.
What must I do to prepare my pet for surgery?
Nothing too strenuous. It is important that surgery be performed on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. You will need to withhold food for at least 10 to 12 hours prior to your pet's procedure. Water can remain available during the night and removed the morning of the procedure.
Will my pet have stitches?
Sutures are always required to close incisions made during any surgical procedure. However, for most routine procedures (neuters, ovariohysterectomies (spays), etc.) we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed at a later time. Some surgeries (such as mass removals) do require visible stitches which will need to be removed.
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 swimming or baths are allowed for a minimum of 2 weeks post 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. Whatever pain relief medications are necessary will vary depending on the surgery performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.
Pain medications are used routinely before and during any procedure. The choice and dosage of medication used varies according to species, medical condition, and the procedure performed. After surgery, pain medication is administered on a case by case basis. Any animal that appears painful or that might feel significant pain will be sent home with additional treatments for pain.