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

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.

What Should Be Done The Night Before Surgery?

After scheduling an appointment for your pet’s surgery, we will request that you bring your pet in by 7:00am on the day of surgery for a pre-surgical examination and pre-surgical blood tests. NO FOOD OR WATER AFTER MIDNIGHT. The blood tests will evaluate your pet for underlying health problems. These blood tests include a packed cell volume (PCV), mini chemistry profile plus or minus a coagulation profile. If a pet is older than seven years of age, your veterinarian will also recommend performing a complete blood count. The exact type of tests your veterinarian recommends will vary depending on your pet’s age, species, any previous health problems and the type of surgery.

What Can I Expect Prior to My Pet’s Surgery?

For all dogs and cats, we withhold food from your pet the night before surgery after 10:00pm. Food is withheld so that if the pet vomits while under sedation, the pet is less likely to vomit food, which could be aspirated into the lungs.

What Can I Expect on the Day of My Pet’s Surgery?

On the day of the procedure, a physical examination will be performed and your pet will be prepared for surgery. An intravenous catheter will be placed for delivery of IV anesthetic medication as well as fluids during the procedure. Your pet will usually be given a sedative at this point, which will help to calm and relax him, followed by an intravenous anesthetic and then a gas anesthetic. An endotracheal tube will be placed in the trachea to protect the airway and to administer the gas anesthetic that will keep your pet unconscious during the procedure.

During surgery, several types of monitors are used to make sure that your pet is doing well. These include a heart rate monitor, which counts the number of heartbeats per minute, and a pulse oximeter, which monitors the amount of oxygen in the blood. An ECG monitor, which shows a tracing of the electrical activity of the heart and a blood pressure system is also used. Monitor use varies with the type and length of the surgery, and the species of animal. All pets are provided intravenous fluids during surgery and are placed on a specially heated pad to keep them warm.

Once the surgery is over the anesthesia is stopped and the pet is allowed to wake up in a quiet area where he can be monitored until it is able to move around safely on his own. Although you will be anxious to take your pet home with you, it is best for him to stay in the hospital where he can be monitored until the veterinarian feels it is safe to leave. Your pet will stay overnight in our ICU for monitoring with most surgical procedures. Some small procedures and pets that are having dental procedures will be discharged on the same day and can leave after 5:00pm. During this time, your veterinarian can also provide any necessary pain medication.