Slippery Rock Veterinary Hospital

131 Branchton Road
Slippery Rock, PA 16057


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


grey cat

Many people have questions about various aspects of their pet's surgery or treatment, 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 anesthetics and monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past.  Here at Slippery Rock Veterinary 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.  In general, the risks from NOT performing a needed procedure, such as a teeth cleaning or tumor removal, are much higher than the risk from anesthesia.

Pre-anesthetic blood testing ... is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia.  Every pet needs 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!  Animals that have minor dysfunction will handle the anesthetic better if they receive intravenous fluids during surgery.  If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.

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 8 hours before surgery.  Water can be left down for the pet until the morning of surgery.  Please also make sure to bathe your pet prior to bringing it in for surgery.

Your pet needs to receive pre-anesthetic blood testing and intravenous (IV) fluid therapy to increase safety, blood pressure and kidney perfusion during anesthesia.

Will my pet have stitches?
For most surgeries, sutures will need to be removed in 7 to 10 days after the procedure.  This will also give the doctor an opportunity to follow-up on your pet's post surgical progress.  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.  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.  Should you have any questions or concerns about your pet, please call us.

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 management medications lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling.  Your pet should be started on an oral pain reliever/anti-inflammatory as prescribed by the veterinarian.  Remember that spaying and neutering are major surgeries.  Providing pain relief 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 a fee  for these extra services, please call ahead of time.  This is especially important if the person bringing your pet for surgery is not the primary decision maker for the pet's care.

When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need 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 will be bringing your pet 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.

General Considerations
Good nutrition is very important to reduce surgical stress and aid prompt recovery.  If you have not already done so, discuss your pet's diet with the doctor.

Surgical stress may decrease your pet's resistance to infectious diseases; therefore, all vaccinations need to be current at the time of surgery.  If you are in doubt, check with the doctor before surgery.

Parasites (worms) constitute considerable stress to your pet's health.  Their presence combined with surgery may cause serious problems.  If your pet has not been checked recently, discuss this with the doctor.

If your pet is taking medication (prescription or over-the counter) or has an existing health problem, inform the doctor prior to surgery.

Specific Precautions
Anesthetics should be given on an empty stomach, if possible.  Do not feed your pet for 8 hours before admittance for surgery.  Water may be given up to 4 hours before admittance.

Exercise your pet before bringing it to the hospital, making sure s/he urinated and moved bowels.  Male dogs should be allowed to urinate several times before presentation to the hospital.

Have a question? 

Ask us - we are happy to address any questions or concerns you may have.

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