Preparing Your Pet for Surgery: A Step-by-Step Guide

It's always worrisome if your cat or dog has to undergo surgery, so it is best to be prepared and know what to expect. Today, our Austin vets share some tips to help you prepare your pet for surgery.

Pet Surgeries & Concerned Pet Parents

Whether your pet is scheduled for a simple spay or neuter procedure or more complex orthopedic surgery, you are bound to be nervous and want to do everything possible to ensure that your pet's operation goes as smoothly as possible. That's why we've compiled a list of some of the most common questions our Austin vets are asked by worried pet parents in the days leading up to their animal's surgery.

The Weeks Before Your Pet's Surgery

Before the day of your pet's surgery, you will have one or more appointments with your vet. At these appointments, your vet will ask you a series of questions to get a good understanding of what health issues or injuries your pet has had in the past, any treatments currently being administered, and any behavioral concerns.

Your vet will also thoroughly examine your dog or cat to ensure that your pet is healthy enough to undergo their scheduled surgery. 

If your pet is overweight, your veterinarian may recommend a weight-loss program before surgery. Carrying extra weight increases the risks associated with general anesthesia may make it difficult for your pet to move around after surgery and may lengthen recovery time.

The Days Leading Up to the Surgery

At this point, your vet may recommend bloodwork to check your companion animal's organ function and overall body health. These blood tests can help vets detect any internal issues that are too subtle to pick up with just a physical examination. These blood tests are an important part of reducing the risks posed by a general anesthetic. Other tests that your vet may recommend include radiographs and ultrasounds.

It is a good idea to have your four-legged friend bathed or groomed in the week leading up to your pet's surgery so they are clean and ready for surgery day. Because you'll need to keep the incision dry while it heals, you won't be able to get your dog or cat groomed for a while after the surgery.

Plan how you will transport your pet to and from the surgery. While this may not be a significant issue for cat owners, transporting a large or giant breed dog home from surgery may be difficult. Plan ahead of time based on the type of surgery your pet will undergo and their expected level of mobility following the procedure. If you're unsure about the best way to get your pet home after surgery, consult with your veterinarian.

Prepare a quiet area with a comfortable bed for your pet's return. If your pet will need crate rest, have an appropriately sized crate ready for when he or she returns home after surgery.

The Night Before Your Pet's Procedure

Your veterinarian will give you specific instructions for your pet and the surgical procedure that they will undergo. However, in most cases, you will be asked not to feed or drink anything to your pet after midnight the night before their surgery. If your dog or cat is on medication, consult with your veterinarian about whether you should withhold the medication until after the procedure.

If your pet will be staying overnight at the vet's after surgery, bring any foods, medications, or other items that the team caring for your animal will require to provide the best possible care.

In some cases, you may be asked to bring your pet to the veterinary hospital to stay overnight before their surgery.

The Morning of the Surgery

Make sure your pet does not consume any food or drink the morning of their surgery. Eating and/or drinking could cause your pet to aspirate while under anesthesia, which could be fatal.

Your veterinarian will schedule a time for you to drop off your pet. Remember that surgery day at your animal hospital will undoubtedly be busy, so try to arrive on time and remain calm and relaxed while dropping off your pet.

Your vet may wish to do further testing before surgery to make sure that your pet does not face any increased anesthetic risks.

Check-in with the staff at reception and make sure that they have the correct number to reach you at so that they can provide you with updates while your four-legged friend is in their care.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you want to learn about how you can get ready for your pet's upcoming surgery, contact our Austin veterinarians for more information.