In today’s veterinary blog Dr. John Chandler, board certified veterinary surgeon, outlines how you can help prepare your pet for surgery and what to expect when your pet is hospitalized at WestVet.
Bringing your pet in for surgery can be extremely stressful. Many pets have never stayed a night away from their owner and some people feel apprehensive about leaving a pet with “strangers in a strange place.” WestVet doctors and staff are sensitive to this anxiety and will try to make the circumstances as comfortable as possible for both you and your pet.
How Can Owners Prepare a Pet for Surgery?
- Do not feed your pet after 10 pm the night before surgery unless otherwise directed by your doctor or technician. Fasting decreases nausea and the risk of vomiting while under anesthesia. Exceptions can include patients with conditions that affect glucose regulation (diabetes, insulin-secreting tumors) and very young patients.
- It is typically okay to withhold morning medications the day of surgery.
- If your pet is on medication that cannot be withheld, and must be taken with food, please ask your doctor or technician how to proceed.
- Gather all current medications and bring them to the hospital with the pet. We will often administer them during the hospitalization period.
- If you would like to bathe or groom your pet prior to surgery, do so at least 2 days before your scheduled procedure. Bathing can sometimes remove a protective layer of epithelial cells and increase infection rates.
- Never shave the surgical site.
- If your pet has an orthopedic condition, it is typically advised to decrease the activity level prior to surgery.
What Can Pet Owners Expect on the Day of Surgery?
As a 24 hour hospital, WestVet offers the services of more than 20 doctors and 100 staff members to care for your pet. “Rounds” occur twice daily, 8 -9 am, and 5-6 pm at shift change. This time is set aside for doctors and technicians to discuss hospitalized patients, ensuring that vital information about each patient is shared with incoming caretakers. Typically, doctors are unavailable during these times, with the exception of emergencies. However, a technician may answer questions.
Drop off your pet by 7:30 am on the day of surgery. Although your pet’s procedure may not begin until later, several crucial things must be done prior to surgery including pre-anesthetic lab work, placing IV catheters, pre-clipping hair from the surgical site, administering anti-nausea medication, and/or obtaining x-rays.
Additionally, we set the surgical schedule the evening before. It often changes throughout the day depending on emergencies, cancelations, and unforeseen changes to patient conditions or diagnostics–thus your pet’s procedure may begin earlier.
Lastly, it is difficult to predict exactly how long scheduled procedures may take. Therefore, it is most efficient for WestVet surgeons to have all patients present early in the day.
Please keep in mind that emergencies in any area of the hospital can affect the timing of surgical cases as the entire hospital shares the well-trained anesthetic technicians and imaging equipment.
You will receive a call from your pet’s doctor once they are recovering from surgery. On occasion, a technician will call immediately postoperative and the doctor will call later in the day (usually this occurs when the doctor is extremely busy or has an emergency).
The majority of surgical patients will spend the night in the hospital. We recover most patients on a constant rate infusion of pain medication (similar to a morphine drip). The best way to prevent pain is to never let the patient become painful. Our postoperative pain management protocols work very well in allowing patients to recover from anesthesia comfortably, and slowly be transitioned to oral pain medications once they are awake and eating small amounts of food. This also decreases the amount of postoperative nausea and anorexia. Your pet will be monitored closely overnight by our team of technicians and ER doctors.
You are welcome to call and get updates on your pet anytime. Please be aware doctors may not be available if they are with another patient or in Rounds. The day after surgery you may call after Rounds (9:00 am) to get an update on the daily care plan and potentially schedule a time to pick up your pet that is convenient for your family. Upon arrival, a technician will review all written dismissal instructions and medications. Before you take your pet home, please be sure you understand all of the instructions—do not hesitate to ask any questions.
At WestVet we strive to make you and your pets as comfortable as possible. We realize that surgery and hospitalization can be a stressful and worrisome time. Please ask questions if anything is unclear. We thank you for allowing us to work with you and your pets.
Please see your family veterinarian for a referral for a consultation with a WestVet surgeon. If you have any questions regarding surgery for your pet, contact us at 208.375.1600.