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Ridgefield Animal Hospital
What You Need to Know Before Your Pet's Upcoming Surgery
Is the anesthetic safe?
Today's modern anesthetics and monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Ridgefield Animal Hospital, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics to ensure that a fever or other abnormalities aren't present. We then adjust the anesthetic proticol used depending on the health status of your pet. The anesthetics we use are among the safest available and our team has confidence and experience in using them on patients that range from under 1 day to over 20 years of age.
Preanesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia. Every pet can benefit from blood testing before surgery. These tests ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle processing of 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. For example, animals that have minor dysfunctions may handle the anesthetic better if they receive specific IV fluids during surgery. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery as well. The additional testing will provide the doctor with a more complete picture of your pet's health status.
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 and water from 9pm the night before surgery. In older pets or pets with kidney disease, water can be left down until the morning of surgery.
Will my pet have stitches?
For most surgeries, your pet will receive 1 or 2 layers of absorbable sutures underneath the skin, and a layer of nylon sutures to close the skin. These external skin sutures require removal in 7-10 days in routine cases and longer in certain instances. Neutering of male dogs or cats do not usually have external sutures. With any type of closure used, 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 need to watch for. 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. Your monitoring of the situation at home will help assure a rapid recovery and prevent the need for additional anesthesia or surgery. Be sure to notify our office if you have any trouble monitoring your pet or keeping him or her quiet.
Anything that causes pain in people can be expected to cause pain in animals. Some pets may not show outward signs of pain, but being stoic doesn't mean they are not uncomfortable. Other pets will vocalize, pant, or shake due to discomfort. For your pet's comfort we routinely use pain medications, with the type of medication and length of treatment determined by the type of surgery performed. Major proceedures require stronger pain relief for a longer period than proceedures such as minor skin lacerations.
For dogs, we routinely administer a pain injection or an IV drip depending on the proceedure. Pain medications are continued in-hospital, and we then recommend an oral anti-inflamatory for use at home. This lessens the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use newer medications which are less likely to cause stomach upset than aspirin. The cost of oral pain medication ranges from $10 to $15, depending on the size of your dog.
Because cats do not tolerate standard human pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, we must use specific medications which we carefully dose. Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before. We administer a pain injection, an oral medication, or an IV drip with each surgery. After surgery, pain medication is continued in-hospital and oral pain medications go home with the patient. Oral pain medication in cats is usually under $10.
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 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork and make decisions on the blood testing and other 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.
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 don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.