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Altoona Veterinary Hospital,
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 the anesthetic safe?
Here at Altoona Veterinary Hospital, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics to ensure that a fever or other illness is not detected. We also will design the anesthetic protocol used based on your pet's age, breed, species, and other health considerations. During the procedure, we utilize many types of monitors to keep us abreast of any complications that may be developing. Blood pressure, pulse, respiratory rate, blood oxygen levels, body temperature, and ecg tracings are monitored throughout the procedure.
Pre-anesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia. 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 and in the case serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until they are addressed. We offer optional blood screening with our young/apparently healthy pet elective procedures such as spay/neuter. Older patients or patients undergoing non-elective more extensive procedures generally are required to undergo pre-surgical blood screening and, in some cases, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery as well.
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. Water can be left down for the pet until the morning of surgery.
Will my pet have stitches?
Depending on the type of procedure and doctor preference closure of the surgical site may be accomplished with or without external sutures/staples. Suture used below the skin surface will dissolve within the next few weeks to months, but any external sutures or staples will need to be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery. You will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge. You will need to ensure that your pet does not lick or chew at the incision(s) and we routinely provide e-collars to be used for that purpose. You will also need to limit your pet's activity level with no baths for the first 10-14 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. Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed, species, and other possible health concerns. Major procedures may require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations. We commonly use a combination of injectable pain medications prior to or immediately after the procedure with oral medications dispensed to be continued during their stay and at home. The directions for how much to give and how often will be discussed with you and recorded on the label. If you ever have questions about a pet's medication or are considering giving a medication that was not specifically prescribed for your pet, please call and talk with our staff.
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 microchip id implantation. 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, we will need to 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork and review the procedures to be performed. We ask that the person dropping off the pet is able to provide contact information where someone can be reached at any time during the procedure should we need decisions made. 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.