What to expect before and after surgery
We understand that your pet’s surgical journey can be stressful for the entire family. The following information will help guide you through the process.
1. What should I do the night before surgery?
Feed your pet dinner as usual, but no food after midnight (water is o.k. up until the time of surgery). Try not to let the scheduled surgery disrupt your pet’s usual routine (i.e. remember to let your pet out for his or her usual romp). Please let our staff know the names and dosages of any medications or supplements your pet regularly takes. Most medications can be given the night before surgery, until midnight. Certain medications (such as cardiac/blood pressure drugs) should be given the morning of surgery. Aspirin should be avoided for one week prior to surgery. If you have any question about what medications should/shouldn’t be given, discuss this with our surgical coordinator when scheduling the appointment.
2. What do I bring to the surgery appointment?
Please bring any medications your pet is taking. We will contact your veterinarian for current medical records. Blood work will be run immediately before surgery as part of the surgical package.
3. What time should I arrive the day of surgery?
Some patients may have a consultation on the morning of surgery and others will have had a previous consult with surgery being scheduled for an upcoming day. Regardless, the exact time for arrival will be discussed when your appointment is made. It is important that all patients arrive at their appointed time, so we can prepare your pet for anesthesia and surgery. Blood work is run and reviewed, IV catheters are placed, pre-medications are calculated and administered, etc. Even if a patient is going into surgery at 3:00 pm, we require their presence in the morning hours.
4. How is the exact time of my pet’s surgery determined?
We use a number of criteria when making our surgery schedule within any given day. Issues such as critical nature of the problem and distance the client travels to and from our hospital, if the patient is to be discharged same-day, etc. are considered. In general, we strive to provide the best surgical care available while trying our best to accommodate each client’s needs.
5. Will I be able to stay with my pet the day of surgery and when can I take my pet home?
Unfortunately, due to the hectic and confidential nature of our hospital, pet owners cannot be with their pet immediately before or after surgery. Visitation is allowed once the patients are fully recovered and/or between the hours of 9 am – 11 pm as scheduled with our Client Care Specialists. It’s very common for patients to be disoriented after waking and experience emergence delirium. Often healthy patients are given a sedative to smooth their recovery. Also, many patients receive an epidural pre-operatively which reduces their pain markedly, but also their ability to walk post-op. Because of all these reasons, most patients are kept overnight to allow the medications to wear off and your pet to be returned in a state similar to how they were dropped off.
6. When will my pet’s post-surgery care be reviewed?
Your doctor will call post-op with an update on the anaesthesia and surgical procedure. Some questions can be answered at that time. A full set of detailed, written discharge instructions will be reviewed with you prior to leaving the hospital. The review takes 10-20 minutes and a specific time of discharge will be determined the morning following surgery. If you have additional questions after that point they can be asked through the main number (403-995-3270) or firstname.lastname@example.org (general hospital email)/ email@example.com (specialty services email).
7. How do I prepare for the ride home?
Making a comfortable space for your pet’s journey home is important. Bring along some blankets for padding and warmth. Smaller animals are safest in a crate/kennel; the back of an SUV or back seat of a car is an ideal choice for transporting your larger pet.
8. What should I expect when I get home?
Your pet will most likely be able to walk on their own right after surgery. Most patients find their comfort zone once home and sleep the evening and night away. Typically, animals will be out of sorts for a few days and be in some discomfort for 1-2 weeks.
9. How long will I need to stay home with my pet?
This depends on your comfort level. Some pets will prefer you to be home, but most will be doing quite well in short order after surgery. Dogs are remarkably resilient and may surprise you just how agile they are soon after surgery. The most important factor to a reduced stress recovery is to have your animal confined to a room/kennel where they can’t get into trouble when not supervised.
10. Will I need to plan for post-surgical appointments?
Yes, most cases require suture or staple removal 10-14 days after surgery. Many pets also need X-rays 6-8 weeks post-op. You can schedule x-rays with your primary veterinarian or our surgeon. So long as the appointments are made with your pet’s surgeon, there is often no additional fee for X-rays or office visits.
11. Will my pet have trouble walking on slick floors at home?
At first your pet might. Restricting your pet’s run of the whole house and using rug runners on slick floors may help. You’ll probably find the sling we send home with you will be useful during the first few days.
12. Can my pet be left alone with other animals?
It is best to separate your healing pet from other pets when unsupervised. Allowing them to be together may encourage rough play or your other pets to disrupt the surgery site (i.e. licking).
13. How do I keep my pet quiet if they want to be active?
Confining your pet to a small room or kennel is a good idea. Some owners use baby gates to block off access to other areas, creating a limited, but comfortable space.
14. Can my pet go up and down stairs following surgery?
We recommend restricting your pet from using stairs without help for the first week or two. After that, he or she can negotiate stairs as need be, but no more than that. For example, they can go up the stairs at bedtime and come down in the morning, but going up and down repeatedly should be avoided. Using a sling under their belly can also help to prevent a slip/fall accident. As your pet progresses through the healing process, stair climbing can be a useful rehabilitation exercise.
15. Will I need to keep my pet indoors during the healing phase?
Pets should only be outside on a leash during the healing period. In most cases, we recommend and encourage short leashed walks after returning home that will increase in duration as your pet recovers. It is important to keep the surgical site clean, so make sure your pet doesn’t roll around in the dirt, as most dogs love to do. Avoid bathing your pet for two weeks following surgery.