FAQS about Pet Surgery from The Bluffs Pet Clinic

Scheduling Surgery for Your Pet

Routine surgeries and dental cleanings are performed Monday through Thursday. You will need to take food away from your pet by 8:00 pm the evening before their surgery,however, please keep water freely available. The morning of the surgery, please bring your pet to The Bluffs Pet Clinic at 8:00am. A veterinary technician will review your pet’s surgery forms with you and obtain your permission for us to proceed. You will be asked questions about choosing elective options (if available) such as laser surgery, microchipping, fluid therapy, and oral sealant application. If you have other requests such as clipping mats, plucking ear hair, rechecking ears, etc. the technician will also discuss these with you. Please plan to spend about 15 minutes with the technician when you drop your pet off. We will also discuss scheduling a time for you to pick up your pet when s/he is ready to go home. Just as people receive discharge instructions following surgery, we will need to go over discharge instructions for your pet’s care when you pick him/her up. This will take about 10 minutes. Many surgeries will require suture removal in 14 days, and there is no charge for this service.

What Happens Once My Pet is Dropped Off for Surgery?

Your pet will be given a pre-anesthetic exam to evaluate appropriateness for surgery, confirm the planned surgery, and identify any problems that may be present. Blood will be drawn for pre-anesthetic blood work if not recently done. An intravenous catheter will be placed. Once blood work is done and your pet is ready for surgery, a premed will be given by injection. The premed consists of a pain reliever and mild sedation to cause relaxation prior to anesthesia. Next, an i.v. injection will be given to allow us to place a breathing tube for the oxygen and gas anesthesia to be administered to your pet. Anesthetic monitors will be placed on the patient and the hair in the surgical area will be clipped and scrubbed. A quick move to the sterile surgery suite onto a heated blanket on the surgery table and one last sterile prep is done. The Doctor will enter the surgery suite wearing a sterile gown, cap, mask, and gloves to perform the planned surgery.

Upon completion of surgery, a warm blanket will be wrapped around your pet and they will be placed in a recovery cage and monitored while in recovery. A long lasting injection for pain will be given to ensure a non-painful recovery.

Anesthesia and Your Pet

For many of us, anesthesia is a scary subject. At The Bluffs Pet Clinic, we do everything possible to provide the safest anesthetic experience for your pet. From our individualized anesthetic drug protocols based on our physical exam findings and pre-operative blood work, to our anesthetic monitoring equipment, you can be sure your pet is receiving the best of care. Our veterinary technicians have extensive training in anesthesia for your pets and perform constant monitoring of your pet’s vital signs–heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation of the blood. They constantly fine-tune the amount of gas anesthetic your pet receives to provide a safe plane of anesthesia. The following information is provided to increase your knowledge and comfort with our anesthetic protocols and anesthesia in general.

Pre-anesthetic Exam: Conducted by your pet’s doctor helps to identify potential cardiac or respiratory problems your pet may have as well as evaluate overall health.

Pre-anesthetic Bloodwork: Provides an evaluation of the kidney and liver function where pre-anesthetic drugs and pain relieving drugs are metabolized. The CBC (or complete blood count) evaluates red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. The red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. If the red blood cell count is low we need to evaluate the cause of the anemia as that may indicate a bleeding disorder, decreased production of red blood cells or destruction of red blood cells due to disease processes. The white blood cells help to protect the body from infection. If they are greatly elevated or decreased, that may be a sign of infection somewhere in the body. If they are lower than normal, that may be a sign of leukemia. Low white blood cell levels may decrease a pet’s ability to fight infection. Platelets are the first line of defense to help our blood clot. If they are too low, again there may be a lack of production or a destruction of the pla telets. A low platelet count may cause us to cancel surgery due to the risk of bleeding problems. Any abnormalities in the blood work may result in a postponement of surgery or an alteration of the selection of pre-anesthetic, induction or pain relieving drugs that we use in your pet. Approximately 8% of the pets that we perform pre-anesthetic blood work on will have abnormalities that will result in a postponement of surgery.

I.V. Catheter: An intravenous catheter will be placed in all of our pets that undergo anesthesia for a procedure.  This catheter provides us with immediate venous access in case any emergency medications need to be administered, as well as a place to inject the induction or pre-anesthetic drugs, pain-relieving drugs, antibiotics and administer i.v. fluid therapy.  You will find a shaved area on your pet’s leg (usually the front leg) where the i.v. catheter was placed.

I.V. Fluid Therapy: Pets, like us, may experience nausea from anesthetic drugs.  Such nausea may cause them to not want to drink water for a day or two.  Providing fluid therapy helps to maintain their blood pressure, keep them well hydrated and flush their system of anesthetic drugs–usually resulting in a quicker recovery.  They will just feel better!

Anesthetic Monitoring: Our specially trained veterinary technicians use a combination of hands on monitoring as well as various monitoring equipment to keep a constant watch on your pet’s vital signs while s/he is under anesthesia.  Just like our human hospitals, we understand the importance of monitoring vital signs when our pets are under anesthesia.

Pulse-Oximeter: This is one tool we use to monitor heart rate, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation of the blood.  If a pet does not breathe frequently enough while under anesthesia, the oxygen content in their blood decreases and they also do not take in enough gas anesthetic.  A technician may assist your pets breathing to make sure they obtain adequate oxygen and anesthetic gas.

Doppler Blood Pressure Monitor: We have been using this equipment to measure systolic blood pressure since 2001. Although relatively new in veterinary medicine–only about 15% of veterinary clinics measure blood pressure–this is one of the most important monitoring devices to use while a pet is under anesthesia.  Anesthetic drugs, including gas anesthesia, may decrease the blood pressure.  Adequate blood pressure is needed to ensure good oxygenation of all the tissues and organs.  If blood pressure is too low, lack of oxygen may result in damage of vital organs.  If blood pressure is too high, risk of heart damage or stroke may occur.  By monitoring blood pressure we are able to identify and address these concerns as they arise.  We are proud that we provide this vital service.  You may find a shaved spot on the underside of the front or back foot where this was performed.

EKG: We perform a pre-anesthetic EKG following our pre-anesthetic exam. If arrhythmias are detected we will transmit the EKG by phone to a board certified cardiologist for evaluation. They will assist us in deciding the best anesthetic drugs to use to help minimize arrhythmias under anesthesia. An EKG will be used to help us continue to monitor your pet’s heart rhythm while under anesthesia.