- About Us
- Pet Library
- Informational Pages
- Contact Us
- Referral Hospitals
What You Need to Know Before Surgery
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.
Our mobile unit is equipped with a gas anesthesia machine and surgery suite for small surgical anesthetic procedures such as spays, neuters, mass removals and laceration repairs. Our treatment area is equipped with an ultrasonic dental scaler, polisher and drill, and we can perform most dental procedures. All pets are monitored carefully by a doctor and well-trained technician, both manually and with specialized equipment (pulse oximetry to make sure blood oxygenation level is normal, ECG, heart rate, etc), as well as have an IV catheter placed and IV fluid therapy while under anesthesia. Body temperature will be regulated with a warming blanket. As you can see, there are a lot of pieces involved in an anesthetic procedure. We believe all of these items are important to make it as safe as possible for your beloved pet.
For orthopedics and more involved surgeries (such as C-sections, GI foreign body removal, abdominal mass removal surgeries), we may refer you to the appropriate traditional veterinary hospital as they are equipped to handle overnight hospitalization. We do not keep pets overnight for routine surgical procedures. Instead, they will recover at home under your supervision, and you can contact us with any concerns.
Is the anesthetic safe?
Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here at Harmony Mobile Veterinary Clinic, 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. We recommend 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. All animals will have an IV catheter placed and will receive IV fluid therapy during surgery. If serious problems are detected on the blood screen, we can develop a safer plan, or surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.
We send our blood work to a veterinary lab, as it is the most affordable option. Therefore, we must plan ahead by at least a few days to collect and submit the sample. If your pet needs immediate blood work, we will coordinate this with one of the excellent traditional veterinary hospitals in our area.
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.
Will my pet have stitches?
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.
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 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 prescribe an oral anti-inflammatory medication such as Rimadyl (carprofen) 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 after the surgery.
Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before. We have injectable pain medication options as well as oral. Safe options include Onsior (an NSAID), Gabapentin or Tramadol. NEVER give your pet over the counter medications as many medications given to people can be toxic to pets. Always consult a veterinarian before giving any medication.
We sometimes use narcotic patches for major surgeries in dogs or for chronic painful conditions. This medication will be prescribed and you will need to pick it up from a human pharmacy (we do not keep these in stock). The cost will depend on the size of the dog (typically these patches are very affordable). Injectable pain medications may also be used after surgery on both dogs and cats. Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is a humane and caring thing to do for your pet.
What other decisions do I need to make?
While your pet is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures, such as nail trimming, ear cleaning, expressing anal glands or implanting an identification microchip. If you would like an estimate for these extra services, please let us know in advance. 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 to 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork and make decisions on the procedure(s) and answer any questions you may have. Our typical drop off time is 9:00 am (unless other arrangements are made). It is not necessary to show up early, as we will be ready for you at the scheduled time. If we are doing the procedure at your home, expect us within 10-15 minutes of the scheduled time (due to sometimes uncertain travel times, or a wrong turn!). Your pet will receive individual attention from us. After surgery you can also plan to spend about 10 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs.
You will receive an email reminder the night before your scheduled surgery appointment. If you need to cancel a surgical procedure, please give us at least 24 hours notice. We reserve the right to charge a missed appointment fee for no shows. Please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.