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

Many people have concerns about anesthesia and surgery. We hope this information will help

Is the anesthetic safe?

Anesthesia does pose some risk, however the risk for a healthy pet is minimal and surgical procedures are reserved for conditions carrying risks greater than the risk of anesthesia. At Lakehills Animal Health, we do a thorough physical exam and do complete pre-anesthesia blood work to assess the pet's health status. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be needed as well. If a problem is revealed, we contact the owner and discuss how to address the problem before proceeding. During anesthesia one staff member is dedicating to monitoring the pet's heart rate, respiration rate, end tidal CO2, ECG, blood oxygen, blood pressure, pulse quality, capillary refill time and temperature. In addition, each pet is kept on IV fluids to maintain blood pressure and good metabolic function. This way, if any one monitored parameter goes outside of normal range immediate action can be taken.

It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. Your pet's food should be withheld for at least 8 to 10 hours before surgery. Never withhold water.

Will my pet have stitches?

For many surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve and do not need to be removed later. Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, 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 to 14 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 you can be sure they feel it. Pain medications needed depend on the surgery performed. Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in our pets than ever before. 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?

When you bring your pet in for surgery, you will need to 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork and discuss any concerns with the doctor. 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 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.

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