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


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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 protocols have made surgery much safer than in the past.  Here at Three Trails Animal 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 type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet.

Preanesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia.  Every pet needs blood testing before surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic.  Even seemingly 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.  If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.

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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.  Water can be left down for the pet until the morning of surgery. Your pet's safety is always our number one priority.  Please ask our staff if you have any questions regarding this protocol.

Will my pet have stitches?

For many surgeries, we use non-absorbable sutures in the skin.  These will not dissolve on their own, and do need to be removed later.  Generally we will have you return in 10-14 days post surgery for us to examine the surgical site and remove any stitches or staples that remain. Occassionally we will place absorbable suture in a site, but you will be informed of this exception.  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.  You will also want 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.  All animals undergoing surgery will receive additional pain medication once the anesthesia has left their systems. A prescription for at home pain medication is required with every surgery.  The use of a narcotic patch will be required for orthopedic surgeries as well.  The cost will depend on the size of the dog.   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 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 approximately 5 to 10 minutes of your 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 5 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs.