Surgical FAQs

What You Need to Know Before Your Pet's Upcoming Surger

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?

Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past.  Here at Bentley Animal Hospital, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, to ensure that a fever or other illness won't be a problem.  We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet. In addition we always place an IV-catheter in all of our surgical patients and administer IV fluids during surgery.

Preanesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia.  Every pet benefits from 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 with minor dysfunctions will handle the anesthesia better if they receive additional IV fluids during and sometimes also after surgery.  If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.

We offer a discounted preanesthetic bloodpanel before surgery, which we will explain to you when you bring your pet in.  For animals up to four years this blood work is optional, but we require it for everybody five years and older, for the safety of your pet.  Our doctors may request additional blood tests and diagnostics before surgery on geriatric or ill pets.

Will my pet have to stay after surgery?

With the exception of some minor procedures, for example dental cleanings and cat neuters, we like to keep our surgical patients for at least one night afterwards. This will ensure that they are calm and confined and also allows us to watch them closely for any problems.

Will my pet have stitches?

For almost all surgeries, we use skin sutures or staples.  The sutures/ staples will usually be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery.  Until then, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge.  Most dogs and cats do not lick or chew excessively at the incision, but this can be a problem you will also need to watch for.  You should limit your pet's activity level and give no baths until the sutures are removed.

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 often don't whine or cry, but are in pain , nevertheless.  So we will administer pain medications to our surgical patients. The amount and type of pain medications will depend on the surgery performed.  Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations. For most routine surgeries the price already includes these medications.

For dogs, we usually administer an anti-inflammatory before surgery and send home an oral anti-inflamatory for several days several days after, to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling.  We use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset and can be given even the morning of surgery. 

Because cats do not tolerate anti-inflammatories well, 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.  We usually administer a pain injection prior to surgery.  After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis.  Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication here in the hospital and to go home.

For more extensive and painful procedures we may use narcotic patches for dogs and cats.  The cost will depend on the size of the animal.  Injectable pain medications may also be used after surgery on both dogs and cats.  Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is the humane and caring thing to do for your pet.

What do I need to know for the day of the appointment?

While your pet is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures, such as removing retained baby teeth or implanting a microchip. 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.

It is important that surgery is done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. You will need to take away your pet?s food the evening before surgery. Water can be left down until the morning of surgery.

You will need to drop your pet off the morning of the surgery between 7:00 and 7:30 a.m. so we have time to do the pre-surgical exam, run the blood work, and place the IV catheter before surgery. At that time, we will need about 5 to 10 minutes of your time to fill out paperwork and make decisions on the blood testing and other options available. 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.

We will call you the day before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm the appointment 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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