Whether it’s a routine dental cleaning, spay/neuter, or something more complex like tumor removal or exploratory surgery, there are some steps you can take to better prepare yourself and your animal companion for the big day.
Surgery in any sense can be difficult, whether it’s on your pet, yourself, or another person, and can cause a lot of stress. To help alleviate some of that stress, here are a few things to discuss with your vet prior to deciding on surgery:
- What is your companion animal’s actual diagnosis?
- What are all treatment options?
- What are the complications and risks of surgery vs other treatment options?
- Has the veterinarian done many of these surgeries/ does he or she have experience?
- What’s the prognosis?
- What happens during surgery?
- How will your pet’s pain be controlled?
- Does the vet have overnight care, or will your pet be alone after office hours?
- What is the post-op care for this procedure?
Preparing for Surgery
Once you’ve gone through all of these items and you have a good idea of what to expect with this surgery, you will have to do some preparation with your pet prior to the surgery.
Anytime an animal is scheduled for anesthesia, fasting is required. Why? Like in humans, if a groggy pet vomits, they can aspirate, which can be fatal. Depending on the age and health of your furry companion, your vet will give you specific instructions on how much and when to feed and water for the 24 hours leading up to surgery.
Special Diet & Medications
Some dogs and cats require special medications, food, etc. and your vet will need to have those things handy so your pet is kept as comfortable as possible while in their care.
Your cat or dog will likely also require some sort of confinement post-surgery; whether it be to a cage, a small room, possibly with little to no activity. Get prepared with the proper accommodations before bringing your pet home.
Day of Surgery
You’ll likely be asked to have your pet in the office early even if their surgery isn’t scheduled until later in the day. This gives the vet the opportunity to run any physical exams or bloodwork, place a catheter, administer fluids, take x-rays, etc.
What to Expect at the Clinic
You’ll be required to complete some paperwork on your fur family member’s behalf, including consent forms and medical estimates. Make sure the vet has the best contact number to reach you at any time the day of surgery.
Recovering from Surgery
There are a few additional steps you can take to make sure your pet’s recovery is as easy on them (and you!) as possible.
- Wash pet bedding the day before surgery.
- Consider bathing your pet the day prior to surgery because they likely won’t be able to bathe for several weeks after surgery.
- Arrange for time off work to make sure your dog or cat is properly cared for by you the days of surgery and after.
- Buy any required special food for your pet before surgery, as many pets need a special diet for some time post-op.
- Remove any fragile items that your pet might knock over when wearing an e-collar after surgery.
- Ask questions! Make sure you’re comfortable with your decision to put your four-legged family member through surgery and get all of your questions answered by your vet. Just because we haven’t listed it here doesn’t mean your question isn’t important… the only dumb questions are the ones not asked!