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Are there risks involved with anesthesia?
There are always risks involved when a patient undergoes anesthesia. Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Cloverleaf Animal Clinic, we perform a thorough physical exam on any patient before administering anesthetics. This preanesthetic exam helps to ensure that a fever or other illness won't be a problem. The veterinarian will also adjust the amount and class of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet.
Blood testing done prior to the administration of anesthetics is important in reducing the risk associated with anesthesia. It is recommended that every patient have certain blood parameters checked before surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic. Even patients with a mostly normal physical exam can have serious organ system problems that cannot be detected without blood testing. If there is an underlying 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 resolved.
There are several levels of preanesthetic blood testing offered. A more comprehensive screen is more often preferred because it gives the most information to ensure the safety of your pet. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or diagnostic imaging may be required 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. A small amount of water can be left down for the pet until the morning of surgery. If you pet is diabetic, on certain medications, neonatal, or geriatric, a veterinarian will discuss how to withhold food and water before and after anesthesia.
Will my pet have stitches?
This depends greatly upon the surgeon and the surgery being performed. For many surgeries, we use an absorbable suture underneath the skin. This material will dissolve on its own and does not need to be removed later. Some surgeries will require the use of skin suture. Regardless of the material and technique used, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge. Most patients will not lick or chew excessively at an incision, but this is an occasional problem that you will need to watch for. Most incisions will need to be rechecked by our office around 10 days after the surgery. Most procedures will require you to restrict your pet's activity level for a period of time and no baths or swimming until cleared by a veterinarian.
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. A more invasive procedure might require more pain control than a minor laceration repair.
The class and frequency of pain control depends greatly upon the patient and prescribing veterinarian. Many minor procedures, such as spays, neuters, and laceration repairs may require a simple anti-inflammatory for a few days after the surgery. More invasive procedures, such as multiple tumor removals and orthopedic surgeries, may require the use of a narcotic, anti-inflammatory, or both. The cost of these medications can be discussed with your veterinarian before the day of surgery.
It is important to remember that pets can't tolerate traditional human pain control, like aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetominophen. Please discuss with your veterinarian before giving your pet any medication not prescribed to that pet. 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 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. This is especially important if the person dropping the pet off for surgery is not the primary decision maker for the pet's care.
When you bring your pet in for surgery, you will need 5 to 10 minutes to fill out paperwork and make decisions on blood testing and other options available. When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan to spend about 10 minutes going over your pet's home care needs.
We may 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.