Surgical FAQs

While pet surgeries are done every day, we know that as a pet owner you may have a lot of questions or concerns about your pet’s safety and care during and after their surgery. Here are a few frequently asked questions about pet surgery. If you have any questions that aren’t addressed here, please feel free to contact us!

Is the anesthetic safe?

Today’s modern anesthetics have made surgery much safer than in the past.  Here at Marcum Road 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 Reduces Risk

Preanesthetic 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 serious problems are detected, surgery  can be postponed until the problem is corrected if possible or changes in the treatment plan for anesthesia may be implemented.

We offer two levels of in-house blood testing before surgery, which we will go over with you when you schedule surgery for your pet.  For older pets we perform the more comprehensive screen, because it gives 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.  For younger pets a less comprehensive screen is usually adequate and recommended but not required.

Withholding Food Before Surgery

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.

Before surgery your pet will have an IV catheter placed and will be given IV fluids to prepare for anesthesia.

Will my pet have stitches?

For many 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 stitches.  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, these will usually be removed 10  days after surgery.  You will also need 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 they may be restless or hide from family members.  Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed.  Major procedures require more pain relief than procedures like minor lacerations.  Dr Gedeon has received special training in the use of many pain management options including injectable drugs, local anesthetics, patches, acupuncture, laser, icing, soaker catheters.

Post-Surgical Pain Management

A combination of pain management techniques will be employed on your pet according to the latest medical information available and most effective technique for the type of surgery performed.

Post-Surgical Anti-Inflammatory Care

For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflammatory the day after surgery and several days after to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling.  We use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset and can be given even the morning of surgery.  The cost of the medication ranges from $10 to $15, depending on the size of your dog.

Pain Management for 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 15-30 minutes prior to surgery.  After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis.  We feel that preventing pain before it can begin is the most humane and logical management.   Injectable pain medications may also be used after surgery on both dogs and cats.  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?

Are there other minor procedures you would like us to perform?

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.

Preparing for Home Care

When your pet is admitted for surgery, we will need to 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 can 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 are scheduled to bring your pet for admission 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.