At some stage in your pet’s life, with the first time usually for desexing, you may need to consider your pet undergoing some sort of surgical procedure. Lumps, bumps, teeth, broken nails, tails, cut paws and much more can be surgical subjects. Surgery can be the quickest and most effective way of resolving or preventing a problem. It sounds very dramatic and although it is a serious medical procedure a bit of knowledge can take away the worry.
Your pet is usually less worried than you! Animals do not need to fret about their jobs, bills, children or appearance, and sensibly all they do is rest until they are better. For a surgical procedure to occur you will have been advised by our staff after consultation what the problem is and how it can be treated. Never be afraid to ask questions, request diagrams or written information. Also get a realistic estimate of costs, follow ups, further medication etc. Come back if needed, for your first reaction can sometimes be anxiety and it is hard to take it all in. Don’t panic!
For non-emergency procedures your pet will be dropped off in the morning and usually can go home that evening. Fast the patient from bedtime the night before to prevent any vomiting during or after the anaesthetic. The Nurse will confirm what is to be done, and arrange the paper work. Please leave with us a phone number so that we can reach you in case we need to make a phone call to make everything clear.
Everyone involved is briefed about what will happen and the equipment is readied.
The patient is first given a ‘pre-med’ or a pre-anaesthetic sedative. This makes them drowsy and allow the transition in and out of consciousness to be smoother and less confusing. It also helps keep the animal still when finding and injecting into veins. Pain relief injections are given at this stage. After this takes effect, anaesthetic is injected into the vein, usually on the foreleg. Most times it is necessary to shave off some hair to do this. The length of the anaesthetic depends on the surgery. Hair is a source of infection, so the surgery site is clipped and cleaned.
The surgeon performs the operation in a sterile environment with sterile instruments. Tools are ‘autoclaved’ or placed in a high temperature steaming machine to kill any germs. Sterile gloves, drapes and swabs are also used. Antibiotic injections are commonly given to protect against any bacterial risk. This cleanliness is as important as the surgery itself.
After the operation is finished, the wound will most likely be sutured = stitched together. This may be with dissolving or persistent thread. Non-dissolving stitches are removed at the Clinic up to two weeks later. This is also a good time to check healing, and discuss any further care. After stitching and cleaning the wound your pet is placed in a warm, quiet room with a blanket to wake up. They are monitored by staff to ensure they are ok. When you come to collect them they may still be a bit drowsy and need a car ride home and a peaceful bed ready.
Expect a quiet night and do not be alarmed if the patient is not very hungry. Limit meals to about half what is normal. If drowsiness persists or any other unexpected behaviour occurs do not hesitate in seeking veterinary advice. If your pet is licking or disturbing stitches, a ‘bucket’ or Elizabethan collar (we sell these cheaply) may need to be fitted to prevent infection or suture removal and rupture. Rest, quiet and particularly warmth are important: an enclosed heated area may be necessary, especially if a limb needs to be immobilised.
No-one wants their animals to need surgery but if you and the family are informed and aware many of the concerns can be eased. Get plenty of information from your Veterinarian about the condition and procedure involved. Be prepared for before and after surgery. Arm yourself will TLC and don’t panic!