What You Need to Know Before 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.
Very few surgical procedures can be done in the field or at home. The surgical procedures we can do are disbudding (removing horn buds) and castration of goats, sheep, cattle, llamas and alpacas. Piglets can also be castrated in the field if they are under one week of age. Sheep and goats can undergo emergency Cesarean sections in the field as well, if a dystocia (difficult delivery) cannot be corrected. All other surgeries should be performed in the sterile environment of a dedicated surgery suite in a veterinary hospital. Coastal Valley Veterinary Services is affiliated with Deep River Animal Hospital and most of our small animal patients needing surgery or dental procedures are referred there. However, if you already have a clinic you prefer or one that is located closer to you, we can forward our medical records for your pet to that hospital.
In addition, CVVS is equipped to perform pre-surgical blood work to help determine if your pet seems healthy enough for surgery. We offer three levels of in-house blood testing before surgery, which we will go over with you when we examine your pet. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery as well which will have to be done in a clinic.
Will I need a separate appointment for a pre-surgical exam?
If your cat or dog is undergoing surgery at Deep River Animal Hospital, you will not be required to have a second pre-surgical exam. If you are going to another hospital, your pet may be required to have an additional exam before surgery, depending on the policies of that hospital. In most cases however, other hospitals will not require you to repeat pre-surgical blood work if it has been completed within a short period of time before the surgery (usually one month).
Will my pet have stitches?
For many surgeries, absorbable sutures are administered 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. 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.
If my pet has staples or stitches after surgery will you be able to remove them?
Yes. However, some hospitals include a post-surgical exam as part of the fees for surgery. If Coastal Valley Vet performs a post-surgical exam, the fee will not be included when the surgery is paid for. In most cases for a simple suture removal the mileage fee would be the only charge, but if a more extensive exam or bandage change is necessary, a professional time charge will apply as well.
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 may not whine or cry, but you can be sure they feel it. Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.
For dogs, an oral anti-inflammatory the day after surgery and several days after will lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. 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. Pain medication is administered at Deep River Animal Hospital prior to surgery; this is an important question to ask if you decide to take your cat or dog to a different hospital for surgical or dental procedures. After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis. Any animal that appears painful will be able to receive additional pain medication; please call us if you have concerns about your pets' post-surgical comfort.
Injectable pain medications and narcotic patches may also be used after surgery on both dogs and cats. Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is a humane and caring thing to do for your pet. Please do not give your pet ANY medication without first consulting with a veterinarian. It is especially important with drugs like Aleve, Naproxen, or Tylenol which can kill your pet with only one dose.