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Surgery FAQs

What You Need to Know Before Your Pet’s Upcoming Surgery

We know that having a pet who needs surgery can be stressful, and there are a lot of questions about various aspects of it. We hope that this information will help answer those questions and address some decisions and preparations you may need to make.  

Is the anesthetic safe?

Modern anesthetic methods and technologies have made surgery much safer than it was in the past. At Gregory Veterinary Clinic, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering any anesthetic, and tailor the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the needs and health of your pet. 

Preanesthetic blood testing is vital in reducing and managing the risks of anesthesia and is a requirement for every pet having surgery. Blood testing allows us to make sure that your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia, and gives us the chance to detect any underlying illness like kidney or liver dysfunction. During the surgical procedure, your pet receives IV fluids that help to keep your pet hydrated, maintain their blood pressure, and aids them in successfully metabolizing the anesthetic. If any serious health issues are detected on a pet’s preanesthetic screenings, then the procedure can be postponed until they are corrected. 

For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood testing, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery.

Is there anything I need to do to prepare my pet for surgery?

It is critical that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting and potential aspiration during and after anesthesia.  You will need to withhold your pet’s food starting at 10pm the night before surgery.  Water can be left down for the pet until the morning of surgery.

Will my pet have stitches?

For many surgeries, we use absorbable sutures that are placed underneath the skin.  These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later.  Some surgeries, especially lumpectomies, do require external stitches. With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on your pet’s incision for swelling or discharge. Most dogs and cats do not lick excessively or chew at their incision, but this is an occasional problem you will need to monitor 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 while they’re healing, and no baths are allowed for the first 10 days after surgery. Pets should also not swim or go to the groomer during this time, unless permitted by your doctor.

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 may not whine or cry, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t in pain. The pain medications your pet needs 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-inflammatory for several days after surgery to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling.  We administer an anti-inflammatory pain injection 10 minutes prior to surgery, so this medication is usually continued the next morning. We utilize the most recent and modern medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset and can be given even on the morning of surgery.  

For cats, recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control than in the past. We will administer a pain injection 10 minutes prior to surgery to keep them comfortable. After surgery, pain medication is typically sent home and needs to be started that evening or the following morning. 

We adjust our pain medication protocols according to each patient, and any pet that is experiencing additional pain will get additional pain control. 

Does my pet have to wear a cone?

Possibly. Depending on the type of surgery, a cone (also called an e-collar) may or may not be needed. For our spay, neuter, and lumpectomies, an e-collar is likely to be sent home with you. Your pet should wear the e-collar at all times for 10-14 days, especially if there is not someone there to monitor them. 

Soft cones and onesies may be an option for your pet; however, these often tend to slide off or expose the incision site and allow the pet to lick or chew. We only carry and send home the hard plastic e-collars, as these are more difficult for the pet to remove and disrupt their healing. 

Is my pet staying overnight?

Our clinic does not offer any overnight monitoring or services. Pets undergoing surgery need to be dropped off between 8:00-8:30am and picked up the same day that afternoon—usually around 3-4pm. After the procedure is done, you’ll get a call with an update, and we will schedule an exact time for pickup. Every pet is different, and some are ready to go home sooner than others, and we need to monitor your pet until they are ready to go home without any complications. 

What other decisions do I need to make?

When your pet is under anesthesia, it can be 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 about blood testing and other options available. When you pick up your pet after surgery, you should also plan to spend about 10 minutes going over your pet’s home care needs.