What You Need to Know Before Your Cats Upcoming Surgery
Many people have questions about various aspects of their pet's surgery and we hope this handout will help. It also explains the decisions you will need to make before your pet's upcoming surgery.
Is The Anesthetic Safe?
Today's modern anesthetics and anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. We do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics to ensure that any unseen health concerns 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. Every pet needs 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 get IV fluids during surgery. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
ECG screening is another test that will be done before anesthesia, to look for abnormal heart function that might affect anesthesia or post-surgical recovery.
It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach, to reduce the risk of vomiting under and after the anesthesia. You will need to withhold food at 6:00 p.m. the night before surgery. Water can be left out until the morning of surgery.
Will My Cat Have Stitches?
Not usually. For most surgeries we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own and do not need to be removed later. You will only need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge. Most cats do not lick excessively or chew at the incision, but this is an occasional problem you will also need to watch for.
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.
After declawing you will not be able to use regular or scoopable litter for at least the first few days after your pet comes home, so dust and grit don't get in the toes. We include paper pellet litter in the cost of surgery. You will also need to keep your cat from jumping or running too much for a week or so - no jumping off countertops or high places!
Will My Cat Be In Pain?
Anything that causes pain in people can be expected to cause pain in animals. Cats may not show the same symptoms of pain as people do - they don't usually cry out - but you can be sure they feel it. We use local anesthetics on the incision site to keep your pet more comfortable for the first few hours after surgery.
For years we have under medicated cats for pain because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, Ibuprofen or Tylenol. Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before. We use a narcotic pain patch for many surgeries. The patch is applied to a small shaved area on the back of the neck and provides continuous pain relief for 3 - 4 days. The pain patch is elective and typically not included in the surgery estimate. Remember that spaying, neutering, and declawing are major surgeries. Providing pain relief is a humane and caring thing to do for your pet. We use a local anesthetic for all declaw procedures performed and also send home pain medication for your pet's comfort after surgery.
What Decisions Do I Need To Make?
While your pet is under anesthesia is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures such as nail trimming (this service is preformed for your pet at the time of surgery for no charge), ear cleaning or implanting an ID microchip. For pets six to eight months old this is also an ideal time for a fluoride treatment of the new adult teeth, to help strengthen the enamel and lessen dental problems later on. We will ask you about these extra procedures when you bring your pet in. 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 15-20 minutes of time to fill out paperwork and make decisions on the blood testing, fluoride and other options available. When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan to spend about 20-30 minutes to go over your cat's home care needs.
We will call you the day before your scheduled surgery appointment to confirm the time you will be dropping your pet off 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!
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