Common questions before your pet's surgery

posted: by: Franklin Falls Animal Clinic Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

Many people have questions about various aspects of their pet's surgery. We hope this information will help. It also explains the decisions you will need to make before you pet's upcoming surgery. 

Is the anesthetic safe?
Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Franklin Falls Animal Clinic, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics to ensure that a fever or other illness won't cause complications. We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet.
Preanesthetic 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 testing. If there is a problem, it is much better to find it before it causes an anesthetic or surgical complication. Animals that have minor dysfunction will handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV fluids during surgery. All pets undergoing general anesthesia at our clinic will be provided IV fluids during the procedure. If serious problems are detetected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, ultrasounds, or x-rays may be required before the surgery as well. 
It is important that surgery is done while the pet's stomach is empty to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. You will need to withhold food and water for at least 8 to 10 hours before anesthesia, unless otherwise directed. 

Will my pet have stitches?
For many surgeries, such as spays and neuters, 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. These will need to be removed 14 days after surgery. With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for any 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. You will also need to limit your pet's activity level for at least 14 days after surgery and no baths will be allowed during that time. 

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 to; they  usually don't whine or cry, but you can be sure they feel it. Pain medications needed will depend on the type of 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 that are less likely to cause stomach upset and can be giving even on the morning of surgery. After surgery, if you feel that the pain medications are not enough, be sure to inform us so that we can make changes to the protocol. It is very important that you do not attempt to treat pain at home with human medications!
Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen, we are limited in what we can give them. Recent advances in pain medicines have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before. We administer a pain injection several minutes prior to surgery and they will be sent home on oral pain medication afterwards. Any animal that appears to be in pain will receive additional pain medication. Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is a humane and caring thing to do for your pet.

What if I am worried about my pet during the day?
We know you will be worried about your pet on the day of his or her surgery. With your permission, throughout the day we will post pictures on our website of your pet while he or she is at the clinic. We will always call you if we have any questions or concerns about your pet and we will happily accept your phone calls to check up on your pets. 

What decisions do I need to make?
While your pet is under anesthesia is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures such as dentistry, ear cleaning, or implanting a microchip. If you would like an estimate for these extra services, please call ahead of time. 
On the day of surgery, we ask that you arrive between 8:00 and 9:00 to drop off your pet. We will need 5 to 10 minutes of time to go over paperwork and go over options available. When you arrive to pick up your pet, you can expect to spend about 10 minutes going over your pet's home care needs. If anyone other than yourself will be dropping off or picking up your pet, please call us ahead of time to make arrangements. This avoids delays at check in and pick up. 
We will call you the night before your scheduled surgery appointment to confirm your appointment and to answer any additional questions you may have. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery. 

How will I know how much the surgery will cost?
Before any surgical procedure, we will provide you with a written estimate. All estimates will have a range in cost. Sometimes the range is very wide, depending on the planned surgery. Some things that can affect the difference between the low end and the high end of surgery include the pet's weight, length of the procedure, complexity of the procedure, supplies needed, pet obesity, and medication dosages. 
We accept Care Credit as a way of helping you to care for your pet, especially for unanticipated surgeries. Please call us if you have any questions or if you would like help applying for Care Credit.