What to expect for your pet's elective surgery

Before scheduling surgery for your pet (spay, neuter, lump removal, etc.) they will need to be examined by a veterinarian to determine their health status and fitness for anesthesia. Once the patient is cleared of any physical abnormalities they will be scheduled for their elective procedure. Depending on the pet's age, preanesthetic laboratory testing (e.g. blood testing) will be recommended, or may be required for safety. This testing can be done at the time of the presurgical visit, or may be performed the morning of the pet's procedure. One benefit of having the blood work done prior to the day of the procedure is that we can run blood clotting tests in addition to the regular testing, at no additional cost.

Pets that are scheduled for anesthesia or sedation should be fasted (no food or treats by mouth) after 8:00 pm, the evening before the procedure. Please do not restrict your pet's water at any time before admission as this can lead to dehydration, predisposing to complications.

On the scheduled morning of your pet's procedure you will be given an arrival appointment, typically between 7:50 and 8:20 am. It is important that you come at your scheduled time and allow approximately 15 minutes for the admission procedure. Please be sure that the person who is bringing the pet for admission has read the handout materials about the procedure and anesthesia, that were provided at the pre-procedure visit. If the handout materials have not been read, you will need to read them the morning of admission, prior to signing the consent form(s). If you do not have your copy of these handout materials, please click here to access online copies, or call our office to obtain printed ones. Reading the forms ahead of time and making choices about optional services will help to expidite the admission process.

You will be presented with a procedure consent form that describes the procedure your pet is scheduled for as well as a section for you to make known your wishes for safety and comfort options (such as IV catheter, preanesthetic laboratory testing, microchipping, etc.). When your pet is here for scheduled services, there are other services that may be of benefit to the pet as well, including: microchipping, dental cleaning/issues addressed (if needed), correction of umbilical hernias, tear duct flushing, dewclaw removal, declaw for cats, nail trimming, ear hygiene (cleaning and/or plucking of hair), brushing out of mats, expressing anal sacs, or bathing. Doing these procedures while the pet is already anesthetized or sedated for another procedure can reduce the cost associated with these additional services. Be sure to request any of these additional services that you want your pet to have at the time of admission. The patient's vital signs and a recent history will be taken and recorded. A pet identification band will be placed around your pets neck and they will be admitted to the hospital ward. We will begin preparation for your pet's procedure, which typically takes place in the afternoon, and will call you mid to late afternoon when they are in recovery, to arrange a discharge time. It is very important that you provide us with a number to contact you at anytime throughout the day in the event questions or concerns arise.

Pets that are to have preanesthetic testing will have blood and/or urine samples obtained and their testing begun, usually in the morning, so their test results are ready by the afternoon. Patients that are to have an IV catheter placed will have their leg (usually front) clipped and scrubbed with surgical scrub and a catheter placed to allow medication administration and fluid therapy that will help maintain blood pressure, replace blood loss, and keep the patient from becoming dehyrated. A preanesthesia calming medication is given to reduce anxiety and allow relaxation, reduce the chance of post anesthesia vomiting, and control excess salivation. Pre-procedure pain medication is given at this time, as appropriate.

At the time the procedure is to begin, an injection is given to quickly anesthetize the patient (called induction). This allows intubation, which is the placement of a breathing tube down the patient's trachea, or windpipe. This tube protects from fluids entering the lungs, allows us to breathe for the pet (if necessary) and provides a way for administration of isoflurane gas that keeps the pet under anesthesia until the procedure is complete. Supplemental heat (to prevent hypothermia) is provided by way of a hot water blanket underneath the patient, and a warm air blanket placed overtop the patient. Intravenous fluids may be run through a fluid warmer as well. The patient is connected to an electronic monitor that will provide readings for EKG, heart rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen level, exhaled carbon dioxide and, at times, blood pressure.

The surgical site is clipped, vacuumed and antiseptically prepared for surgery. Handout materials for each surgery that briefly describes the surgical procedure can be accessed by clicking  here.

Once the procedure is complete, the pet's anesthesia will be discontinued, although they will continue to receive oxygen through their breathing tube, until they regain their ability to swallow. Once they can swallow and breathe on their own again, the breathing tube is removed and the pet's vital signs are monitored until they can sit up on their own. At this point we will call you and let you know that your pet is recovering well and arrange a discharge time for you to pick your pet up.