Skip to main content

What To Know Before Your Pet's Upcoming Surgery

Many people have questions about various aspects of their pet’s surgery, and we hope this information will help.  It also explains the decisions you will need to make before your pet’s upcoming surgery.

​​Is anesthesia safe?

​Today’s modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past.  At Rowan Animal Clinic, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, to ensure that a fever or other physical illness won’t be a problem.  We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet.

Pre-anesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia.  We recommend that every pet 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 there is a problem, it is much better to find it before it causes anesthetic or surgical complications.  Animals that have minor dysfunctions will handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV 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 or regurgitation during and after anesthesia.  You will need to withhold food after 10 pm the night before surgery.  Water can be left down for the pet until 6 am the morning of surgery.  We also ask that you allow your pet plenty of time to use the restroom prior to being dropped off.

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.  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.  Dogs and cats can lick excessively or chew at the incision as it starts to heal and this can be a problem you will also need to watch for.  We send every surgical patient home with an e-collar to help protect healing incision from excessive licking or chewing.  If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed in the office 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 to 14 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.  The type and amount of pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed.  Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.

For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflammatory the day of 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 on the morning of surgery.

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 an injectable pain medication prior to surgery.  After surgery, pain medication is sent home to be given orally for several days after the surgery.  Any animal that appears painful immediately following a surgical procedure will receive additional pain medication in the form of an injection.  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 ear cleaning, nail trims, 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.

Will someone give me an update on how my pet is doing?

The surgery technician will call with an update on how your pet is doing after surgery and a pick-up time once all surgeries on the schedule have been completed and your pet is fully recovered.  This is usually some time between 1-3 pm on days that the surgery schedule is full.  However, you are welcome to call and check on your pet at any time.

What should I expect at drop-off and pick-up?

​When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork, make decisions on the pre-anesthetic blood testing and other options available, and go over the estimated cost for the requested procedure(s) and services.  When you pick up your pet after surgery you should also plan to spend about 10 minutes to go over your pet’s home care needs?

Will I be reminded about my appointment?

​We will call you the day before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm your appointment 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.