Pre-Surgical Instructions & Preparation
Click the link below to download a copy of our pre-surgical instructions and surgery information.
Acadia Vet Clinic Pre-Surgical Instructions
This information is provided with your pet’s health and safety in mind. Please read and follow all the steps outlined to prepare your pet for surgery.
Fasting – Your pet must be fasting for at least 8 hours prior to surgery. Please allow your pet access to fresh clean water up to 2 hours prior to surgery to prevent dehydration.
Drop off between 7:30-8:30am. Please bring your pet to the clinic in a carrier or kennel if possible. Your pet’s blanket, favorite toy and bedding are welcome to come along with her/him. The familiar scent of these items may help comfort and calm your pet during her/his stay.
All patients are required to complete pre-surgical screening tests within 30 days of their scheduled surgery date. If you are unable to complete your pet’s pre-surgical examination and blood work please contact our office at (306) 477-1222 to make arrangements for this to be done on the day of surgery or to reschedule.
Included in the cost of your pet’s surgery:
- Pre-Surgical exam
- Pre-Surgical blood work
- Pre-surgical sedation and catheter placement
- Surgical procedure and all supplies and equipment required
- Gas anesthesia
- Continuous fluid therapy throughout surgery
- Cardiac and respiratory monitoring
- Pain medication during and after surgery
- Dental exam and dental report card
- Nail trim, if needed
With modern drugs and sophisticated equipment, the risk associated with general anesthesia and surgery is minimal for the healthy pet. However, the potential for complications still exists, and the best way to minimize the risk for your pet is to have a complete pre-surgical evaluation performed before the procedure. This allows us to determine if your pet has any underlying problems that might lead to complications during or after surgery, and to make any adjustments necessary to safeguard your pet’s health and comfort.
The amount of preparation will be dictated by the age and health concerns of your pet, and by the nature of the procedure. Once all the information has been gathered and analyzed, your veterinarian will make recommendations about the advisability to proceed with anesthesia and surgery. In some situations, the risk will be too great, and the procedure will be delayed to allow time to treat the underlying problem. In other cases, the decision will be that it is safe to proceed as planned.
Sometimes adjustments will be made to minimize risk even further, such as using a different type of anesthetic, administering pre-surgical antibiotics, giving intravenous fluids prior to the surgery or additional fluids after surgery, or what ever else the veterinarian deems necessary for your pet.
- A systematic visual inspection of the pet’s head, neck, limbs, and body,
- Palpation (feeling with the hands) of the body’s outer surface (skin, fur, muscles etc.), and assessment of internal abdominal organs through the body wall,
- Auscultation (listening with a stethoscope) to the heart, lungs, and abdomen.
- Measuring of your pet’s temperature, respiration rate and heart rate.
Pre-Surgical Blood Work and Imaging
Pre-Surgical blood testing includes a coagulation test and a serum biochemistry panel. These tests provide a wealth of important information about a pet’s health status.
Serum Biochemistry Profile – These tests provide information about how well the various organs of the body are working and give us an ideal of how well they will handle the anesthesia. Pets over 7 years of age require a more comprehensive blood test before any surgical procedure. This is for the health and safety of your pet and is not optional. Major abnormalities, especially involving the liver or kidney, or evidence of serious metabolic disease would justify delaying anesthesia and surgery until the underlying problem was corrected.
Coagulation Tests – This test measures the time that it takes for a blood clot to form. Delayed clotting time can lead to excessive bleeding and can cause complications during and after surgery.
Imaging – x-rays, ultrasound, or other imaging techniques may be recommended prior to anesthesia and surgery, especially if abnormalities or irregularities are found on blood testing. If your veterinarian has concerns about your pet’s heart function, or needs to know whether a cancer has spread, or wants to evaluate the best approach to the surgery, diagnostic imaging may provide the answers. If imaging is required your veterinarian will discuss and arrange a time for this to be done prior to surgery.
When your pet is admitted for surgery you will be asked to fill out a drop-off form. Please be sure that we will be able to reach you throughout the day at the contact number provided on this form in case of an emergency. If deciduous teeth (retained baby teeth) are discovered during your pet’s dental exam we will contact you to discuss the removal of these teeth while your pet is under anesthetic.
It is important to note that there is a small but unavoidable risk whenever a pet undergoes anesthesia and surgery. Pre-surgical preparation does not eliminate this risk, but it greatly reduces the potential for unexpected complications, and goes a long way towards ensuring your pet has a safe procedure, and a smooth and uneventful recovery.
Most surgical procedures performed at our clinic are same-day procedures meaning your pet’s surgery and discharge will happen within 24 hours. Complicated orthopedic surgeries, declaws and a few other procedures will require an overnight stay at our clinic. Patients who are kept overnight will be monitored by our Registered Veterinary Technicians during their stay. Overnight patients can be picked up the following morning.
Once your pet’s procedure is over, you will be contacted. We will let you know how the procedure went and when you can come to pick your pet up. Before we send your pet home your pet is closely monitored by Veterinary personnel, taken out for bathroom break, and offered a drink and some lunch (Medi-Cal Recovery, wet food). Your pet may be sent home with a bandaid on their paw. This was where the catheter was placed and can be removed when you get home.
A team member will meet with you to go over your pet’s post-operative care instructions when you first arrive to pick up your pet. Your job during the recovery period at home is just as important as the surgical procedure just performed.
At Home Care
Home care after surgery mainly involves the restriction of physical activity. Unfortunately, your pet does not understand the seriousness of surgery or the significance of the recovery period. Our patients usually become very active in a short period of time after surgery making confinement and close supervision indoors is of utmost importance!
- No jumping or running
- No stair climbing
- No playing with other pets
- No “rough-housing”
When your pet goes outside to go to the bathroom, it must be on a short leash and returned indoors immediately. You may only take your pet for very short, slow leash walks for 2 weeks, or as instructed by your veterinarian.
You can expect your pet’s balance to be off for the first day after surgery. This is an after effect of the anesthesia. They may be groggy and startle easily so it is important to handle your pet carefully after surgery.
“If your pet must be left alone, it must be confined to a cage.”
If your pet must be left alone, it must be confined to a cage or other small area that is warm and safe. This strict confinement and restriction of activity is necessary during the entire recuperative period. Excessive physical activity often leads to injury or serious complications. This means additional expense to you and added discomfort and risk for your pet.
Do not bathe your pet or allow the incision to get wet for two weeks after surgery. This also means that you cannot allow your dog to lick the incision at all.
Monitor the incision daily for signs of redness, swelling, discharge or excessive licking. Mild redness and swelling are part of the healing process and should be expected for the first few days after surgery. After the first 2-3 days, the swelling and redness should subside and the incision should look better each day. Moderate swelling on or around the incision site is abnormal, and may be an early sign of infection. For routine elective surgeries, any discharge from the incision site is abnormal.
NEVER PUT ANYTHING ON THE INCISION UNLESS YOU ARE SPECIFICALLY TOLD TO DO SO BY YOUR VETERINARIAN. Never put hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol on the incision. These chemicals are toxic to healing tissues, and will cause inflammation and delay the surgical healing.
Call us if you observe any abnormalities or if you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s progress.
My pet keeps licking the incision. What should I do?
We have various sizes of protective collars or “E-collars” to keep your pet from licking the incision site. Licking often leads to chewing or removal of sutures, which can happen in a few seconds. Mild licking can result in an infection that requires antibiotic treatment. However, persistent licking can cause serious injury to the incision and may require a costly surgery to repair the damage. We also carry After Surgery Wraps which are fabric gowns that tie up around your pet’s back and covers the incision completely.
“Persistent licking can cause serious injury to the incision and may require a costly surgery.”
In general, your pet should gradually improve each day. If your pet’s condition changes or suddenly worsens, please call us at the veterinary clinic as soon as possible. Your goal by following these post-operative instructions is to help your pet return to a normal and pain free life as soon as possible.
What should I do when my pet arrives home after its operation?
After arriving home, you should keep your pet warm and comfortable by providing a soft clean bed, ideally in a quiet and draft-free room at approximately 68 -72°F (20 -22°C).
“Unless otherwise instructed, your pet should be given ample fresh water and access to the bathroom.”
Unless otherwise instructed, your pet should be given ample fresh water and access to the bathroom. After a few hours, a small amount of food may be given. If your pet eats this and still appears to be hungry, you may offer another small meal after one to two hours. Keep your pet indoors at least overnight, or longer if instructed. You should restrict your pet’s activity, particularly any jumping or strenuous activity that will cause excessive stretching of the wound, especially during the first few days post-operatively.
My pet seems very sleepy. Is this normal?
Your pet was given a general anesthetic or a sedative. These drugs can take a number of hours to wear off and may cause some patients to appear drowsy for a day or so. Over the next day or two, your pet’s behavior should return to normal. However, if you are at all concerned, do not hesitate to contact the hospital.
My pet seems to be in pain. What should I do?
Proper pain control is an important part of recovery. Your pet will be given pain medication before surgery and you will be sent home with some as well. Based on the nature of your pet’s surgery you may be given a full bottle or a couple syringes of pain medication. Please READ THE LABEL CAREFULLY and ensure that you administer all medication as instructed. If you are having trouble treating your pet, please contact us for advice or visit our Pet Health section for videos and articles on administering medication. Some surgery cases do not require postoperative pain management but to perform the surgery there will be a local or general anesthetic administered. Wart removal or minor suturing of a laceration are common examples.
If your pet seems overly uncomfortable or painful when you arrive home you may place a heating pad next to them. A certain amount of discomfort is normal after surgery but we do not want your pet to go home in unnecessary pain. Give us a call if you think your pet is in pain. NEVER give your pet human pain killers such as Advil or Tylenol without consulting your vet first!
Why has my pet’s foreleg been shaved?
This is usually where the anesthetic or sedative was administered. Additionally, many pet receive fluids through an intravenous catheter and the hair must be removed to allow the area to be disinfected properly before inserting the catheter. Sometimes this area will be bandaged; if so, you can remove the bandage tomorrow unless otherwise instructed.
My pet has developed a slight cough since the operation. Should I be concerned?
Your pet may have had a tube placed in the trachea (windpipe) during anesthesia. This can occasionally cause mild irritation and a slight cough. The cough will diminish over the next few days; however, should it persist or worsen, contact us.
What should I do if my pet is licking its wound or chewing the stitches?
Your pet instinctively may try to clean the operation site by licking. If this becomes excessive, there is a danger of the stitches being pulled out or of infection being introduced into the wound. If you have been given an Elizabethan-type protective collar to prevent the animal from chewing, please ensure it is used. If not, contact us and ask for an E-collar.
“It only takes a few seconds of chewing for a pet to undo its stitches or damage the surgery site.”
Not surprisingly, many pet find these collars strange at first and will attempt to remove them. However, after a short period most pets will settle down and tolerate wearing the collar. It is better to keep the collar on all the time, rather than to take it on and off. It only takes a few seconds of chewing for a pet to undo its stitches or damage the surgery site. If your pet does succeed in removing any of its stitches then please call us as soon as possible.
What should the incision look like, and when should I be concerned?
The incision should normally be clean and the edges should be together; the skin should be a normal or slightly reddish-pink color. In pale-skinned animals, bruising is often seen around the surgical site. This may not appear until a few days after the operation and in some cases can seem excessive in comparison to the size of the incision. This is due to seepage of blood under the skin edges and is normal. In some cases, a small amount of blood may seep intermittently from a fresh incision for up to twenty-four hours, especially if the animal is active.
You should be concerned and should contact the hospital immediately if you see any of the following at the surgical site:
1. Continuous dripping, seepage or a large quantity of blood.
2. Intermittent blood seepage that continues for more than twenty-four hours.
3. Any swellings, excessive redness of the skin, unpleasant smells or discharge.
When do the stitches need removing?
Dissolvable stitches are used for most surgeries at our clinic. These do not require removal and will dissolve on their own. If suture removal is required, we will discuss this with you at the time of discharge. In general, most skin stitches or sutures are removed seven to fourteen days after the operation; the actual time depends on the type of procedure performed. You will be instructed when is the most appropriate time for your pet.
When can my pet resume normal activities?
This will depend upon the type of operation your pet underwent. In the case of a minor procedure involving a small incision, some restriction of exercise should be maintained until a few days after the skin stitches are removed. However, if major operation has been performed or a large incision is present, a longer period of convalescence will be required, which may involve keeping your pet housebound for a number of weeks. Your veterinarian will give you detailed instructions on how long you should restrict your pet’s activities following surgery.