Indian Head Animal Clinic

Box 598, 420 Grand Ave.
Indian Head, SK S0G 2K0

(306)695-2238

www.ihanimal.com

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.


Is the anesthetic safe?

Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past.  Here at Indian Head Animal Clinic, 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 also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet. 

We offer intravenous fluid therapy as an option for your pet while receiving anesthetic. A catheter is placed in the vein and a sterile balanced electrolyte solution is administered during the surgery and in recovery. The IV helps to maintain the pet's blood pressure and circulation during the procedure and allows direct access to the vein should any medications need to be administered in case of problems with the anesthetic. Although the anesthetics used are extremely safe and problems are rare, it is always a good idea to take extra safety precautions. We strongly recommend intravenous fluid therapy for all pets undergoing anesthesia. There is an additional cost associated with the administration of the intravenous fluids.

For elderly pets especially, preanesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia.  Blood testing before surgery helps 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 dysfunctions 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.

Pre-surgical blood testing should be booked in advance of the surgical procedure as the blood is sent to our veterinary diagnostic laboratory for analysis.

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 10 to 12 hours before surgery.  Water can be left down for the pet until the morning of the 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 check 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.


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-inflamatory 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.  The cost of the medication ranges from $10 to $20, depending on the size of your dog or cat.

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 painful 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 care.

When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need to 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork and make decisions on the options available.  When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan to spend about 10 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs.