Downtown Veterinary Hospital

154 Tuscarora St.
Windsor, ON N9A 3L4


What You Need to Know Before Your Pet's Upcoming 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.

Is the anesthetic safe?

Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past.  Here at Downtown Veterinary Hospital, 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. 

Preanesthetic 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.

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.


Is Blood work really necessary?

Prior to any surgery we screen your pet for a variety of internal diseases and conditions that could cause surgical or anesthetic complications. These tests enable us to tailor our surgical protocols to your pets specific needs.

We evaluate kidney function: The kidneys act as a filter, removing waste and toxins from the body. If they're not functioning properly, there could be problems during surgery because your pet may not be able to filter out the anesthesia, complicating your pets recovery.

We evaluate liver function: The liver's function affects all other major organs. If there's a liver problem, it could impact other areas of the body.

We evaluate glucose levels: Glucose can be too high (diabetes) or too low (hypoglycemia). Either one can have a devastating impact on your pet during surgery. 

We identify if your pet has underlying conditions that may not be apparent during the physical exam.

If your pet's blood is not clotting properly, it can be crucial in any situation that could cause bleeding.

If your pet's ability to fight infection is impaired, she may get sick or have trouble recovering from surgery.

We can tailor your pet's anesthetic, pain management and recovery protocols to her individual needs. For example, we evaluate electrolyte levels before surgery. If there is an imbalance, we can adjust her fluid therapy treatment to improve recovery and overall health.

These tests provide an important individual baseline for your pet's health. We can use these test results in the future to monitor her health, including kidney, liver, pancreas and glucose function. We can provide you with a copy of the results for your files as well. 

Will my pet have stitches?

We use absorbable sutures underneath the skin, and skin sutures on top that are removed 10 days later.  With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge.  Most dogs and cats may lick or chew at the incision, therefore all pets are discharged wearing a protective collar that remains on until the scheduled suture removal in 10 days.   You will also need to limit your pet's activity level including leash walks and no jumping 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 recommend an oral anti-inflamatory 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 the morning of surgery.  The cost of the medication ranges, depending on the size of your dog, and was likely included in the quote you were given.

Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, we are limited in what we can give them.  Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before.  We administer a pain injection 10 minutes prior to surgery.  After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis.  Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication. 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 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 to 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 or e-mail you the day 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.


Downtown Veterinary Hospital
154 Tuscarora St.
Windsor, ON
N9A 3L4

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