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Preanesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk inherent in 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 anesthetic or surgical complications. Animals that have minor dysfunction will handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV fluids during surgery, and if serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
We offer three levels of in-house blood testing before surgery, which we will go over with you when you bring your pet in. Our doctors prefer the more comprehensive screen, because it gives them the most information to ensure the safety of your pet. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery as well.
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 8 to 10 hours before surgery, so it is okay to have dinner the night before, but nothing after midnight. Water should also be taken away by midnight the night before the surgery, unless an animal has specific needs.
Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Aptos-Creekside Pet Hospital, 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 the type of anesthetic used, depending on the health of your pet.
For most surgeries, we place external sutures as well as absorbable sutures underneath the skin. In some cases, we use only absorbable sutures under the skin, which will not need to be removed later. With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge; many dogs and cats may lick or chew at the incision, causing secondary infection and other potential problems, so we also recommend an e-collar be worn for most cases post surgery. If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery, during which, you will also need to limit your pet's activity level and remember not to bathe your pet until the sutures are removed.
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. Any 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-inflammatory for several days after the surgery to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. We use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset.
We also use narcotic patches for some surgeries in dogs. The cost will depend on the size of the dog. Injectable pain medications may also be used after surgery on both dogs and cats.
Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, 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. We administer a pain injection 10 minutes prior to surgery, and, after surgery, pain medication is given on a case-by-case basis. 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.
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 should 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.