Surgical FAQs

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.

Is the anesthetic safe?

Today’s modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past.  Here at Woodbury Animal Hospital, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, to ensure that other health issues won’t be a problem.  We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health, size, and age of your pet.

Pre-anesthetic 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.  If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.  Pre-anesthetic blood testing is usually performed several days prior to the procedure.  The type of testing depends on the individual animal’s circumstances.  For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be recommended 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.  In most cases, we will recommend no food or water after midnight the night before.

Will my pet have stitches?

For surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin.  These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later.  Most surgeries do require skin sutures or staples.  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 or staples, these will usually be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery.  You will also need to limit your pet’s activity level for a period of 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 problems like minor lacerations.

For dogs, we may recommend a veterinary oral anti-inflammatory the day after surgery and several days following to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling.   More extensive surgeries will be given more extensive main management.

Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, we are limited in what we can give them.  However, recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before.  We administer a pain injection prior to surgery.  After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis.  Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication.

Pain management will be tailored to the individual animal’s needs and level of surgical invasiveness.  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 might be time to perform other 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.  Please discuss these with the veterinarian, as we need to consider any additional anesthesia time if we do other procedures.

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.  You will be given complete clearly written aftercare instructions.  You will also have time with the veterinarian to review your pet’s care and answer any questions.

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.

How much will the operation cost?

A full estimate detailing the procedures to be performed will be provided prior to the surgery.  The estimate will give a range of the costs depending on the extent of the procedures required.

Specific instructions for procedures

  • No food or water after midnight the night before procedure.
  • If your pet is currently on medications, do not give any that morning unless otherwise instructed to do so.
  • Please bring your pet in between 8:30 am and 8:45 am the day of the procedure.
  • There will be some brief paperwork that needs to be done at admission to the hospital.  This should take just a few minutes.
  • We will usually ask you to call at 3:00 pm to see how your pet is doing and to set up a discharge appointment.
  • Most animals will be scheduled to go home the same day of the procedure.  This will usually be between 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm.  On certain days we are here later.  On these late days, discharge appointments may be scheduled later than 5:00 pm.
  • Some animals will stay overnight or for a few days after the procedure.  The doctors will have discussed these cases with you in advance.
  • Please call us in advance if you need to cancel or reschedule a procedure.  Other clients may want that appointment.