What you need to know before your pet's surgery,
and why cost is not the only factor...
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.
1. Take your pet's food away after 9pm the night before surgery, and don't feed them breakfast before you come to the clinic. Please leave water out at all times for your pet.
2. If your pet is coming in for multiple lumps to be removed, it is helpful if you take a marker to 'X' the lumps, so we are sure to remove all the lumps planned for removal.
It's easy to ask about the price, especially when scheduling your pet's spay, neuter, or dental. However, what is included (or not included!) in that price? Here is a list of really important questions you should ask!
Is the anesthetic safe? What does blood testing have to do with anesthesia? Can't I just skip the blood testing? What is an IV catheter?
Today's modern anesthetics have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Oconto Veterinary Center, Dr. Tracy or Dr. Chris complete 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.
Preanesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia. Every pet should have 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 anesthetic or surgical complications.
At OVC, the doctors insist that an IV catheter be placed for all surgery. Animals that have minor dysfunction will handle the anesthetics better if they receive IV fluids during surgery, and having an IV catheter in place is the only way to ensure we can QUICKLY give your pet emergency drugs IF an emergency occurs during their procedure. Most importantly, the IV catheter allows us to provide fluids to your pet while they are anesthetized, which can help PREVENT dangerous drops in blood pressure. Fluids also flush anesthestics from your pet's body, and protect their kidneys from damage that will occur if the blood pressure drops too low.
While all steps, from an exam, to bloodwork, to using the safest anesthetics, can be taken, every animal is a living organism that can react differently to surgery. Dr. Chris and Dr. Tracy want IV catheters placed in THEIR pets for surgery, and you should want an IV catheter and fluids for your pet, too. This one is not really an option...
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. Dr. Chris prefers skin sutures and uses these for most surgeries. 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. 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.
Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol (Tylenol is DEADLY to cats!), we have to choose specific pain medication for cats. Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before. We administer a pain control medications before, and after your pet's surgery. After surgery, pain medication will be sent home as needed. We understand cats can be difficult to medicate, and we offer some long acting pain relief medications that may mean you don't even have to give any doses at home!
Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is a humane and caring thing to do for your pet. You need to ask if pain medications are included in the cost of your pet's spay and neuter. These medications ARE included in the price at OVC.
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. 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 day 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!