In preparation for your surgery appointment with the team at Academy Animal Care, we have answers to frequently asked questions shown below.
Today’s modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Academy Animal Care, 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.
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 dysfunction will handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV fluids during surgery. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
We offer three levels of in-house blood testing before surgery, which we will go over with you when you bring your pet in. Our doctors prefer the more comprehensive screen, because it gives them the most information to ensure the safety of your pet. For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, 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.
For many surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later. Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, do require skin stitches. With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge. Most dogs and cats do not lick excessively or chew at the incision, but this is an occasional problem you will also need to watch for. If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery. 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.
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. Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.
For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflammatory the day after surgery and 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 on the morning of surgery.
Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before. We administer pain medication prior to surgery. After surgery, additional pain medication is administered in the clinic or sent home for continued pain control.
To prevent self-trauma to the incision, we highly recommend an Elizabethan collar surgical suit. Chewing or licking an incision prior to healing can result in infection and incisional dehiscence. We hope to avoid additional visits and procedures that will prolong your pet’s full recovery. Surgical suits can be ordered online prior to the scheduled surgery.
While your pet is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures, such as dentistry, ear cleaning, or implanting an identification 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.
When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need 5 to 10 minutes of 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 night 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.
- Please arrive between 7:30 and 8:15 for the surgery check-in.
- After reception check-in, a technician will come to review the plan, estimate, and consent form. Surgery check-in may take up to 20 minutes.
- Your pet will be assessed. His or her pre-surgery labs will be drawn if not completed already.
- A pre-surgery pain medication will be administered to assist with discomfort and stress.
- Most surgeries are completed in the morning.
- Patients are monitored in-clinic for several hours after their anesthesia. Patients are discharged to their family for care at home on the day of their procedure once they have recovered from anesthesia.
- We will contact you with an update and anticipated discharge time through the number(s) you provide at surgery intake.
- At discharge, our reception team will be available to schedule your pet’s post-surgery follow-up appointment and complete the checkout process.
- A technician will review your pet’s post-procedure medications and a written care summary.
- We often recommend an Elizabethan collar or collar alternative (inflatable collar, surgisuit) to prevent self-trauma to a healing incision during the first 14 days of the recovery. We keep simple hard plastic Elizabethan collars as well as some soft Elizabethan collars in the clinic to send home on the day of procedure. Consider visiting pet retailers in person or online for Elizabethan collar alternatives for your pet’s recovery period.