What’s important to know
When your pet is booked in for surgery, regardless of whether it is elective surgery or emergency surgery, it is a stressful time for you. It is important to us that both you and your pet are as comfortable and happy as possible.
So what happens?
It is important that your pet has no food in their stomach when they come in as this can pose a life threatening risk under anaesthesia, so make sure your pet has their supper the night before as normal and then any remaining food is removed by 8pm. Do not lift up their water bowl as it is vital that they are not dehydrated prior to their surgery, so please leave access to their water bowl as normal until 7am on the morning they are due in for surgery.
One of our trained nurses will admit your pet, check their weight and discuss any specific concerns you may have regarding the procedure. The nurse will also be able to discuss whether a pre-anaesthetic blood screen or intravenous fluid support (a drip) would be advisable for your pet and give you advice on any post surgery restrictions your pet may need – such as preparing for cage rest after orthopaedic surgery.
Once any blood tests needed have been carried out a pre-med is given, this has many benefits; it contains a powerful pain killer to help reduce post op pain and a sedative which reduces your pet’s anxiety before surgery and helps to reduce the dose of anaesthetic drug needed to give a safer anaesthetic.
The anaesthetic used is the same as is used in human surgery, it is given via an injection into the vein in the front leg. If we are using intravenous fluid support this is when the catheter is placed and the fluids started. Once our patient is asleep we place a breathing tube into the airways to allow us to maintain the anaesthesia using an inhaled gas mixture, using this gas allows us to keep a very close check on how deeply asleep our patient is. During the entire procedure, and during their recovery, our patient will be closely monitored and recorded by a trained nurse. Before being moved into the surgical theatre we will clip the hair away from the surgical site and the first surgical scrub performed before being moved into theatre. Once in theatre the final preparations are made, we ensure our patient is warm and comfortable – important even though they are asleep – and give the surgical site a final scrub before the site is sterilely draped and surgery starts.
Once the procedure is completed the surgical site is cleaned, dressings are applied where necessary and the patient starts to wakes up. Once the patient is awake and able to be returned to their accommodation for the day we make sure that they are warm, have adequate pain relief and are fed or toileted as necessary. The wound is monitored for any signs of complications, and the patient is assessed for comfort and stress, it is often at this point we decide whether or not the patient needs an Elizabethan collar (aka cone of shame) to protect the wound.
When we feel that your pet has recovered from the anaesthetic and is comfortable enough to go home we will book a discharge slot. As we are discharging your patient we will discuss the surgery, any results from blood samples or other tests which were performed, we will also explain any post operative restrictions and any medication such as pain relief or antibiotics that your pet may need.
If you have any concerns once you get your pet home, or in the unlikely situation that a complication develops we are available by telephone 24/7 for advice or treatment if needed.