May 16 2012

What happens when you leave your pet with us for surgery?

Since many pets at one time or another may require some type of surgery, owners wonder what happens after they’ve dropped off their loved one for their procedure. I’d like to give you a little insight into how we care for your pet before, during, and after sedation for an operation. We’ll use the name Maggie to refer to our patient here.

Before Maggie is sedated, her veterinarian needs to make sure there are no underlying diseases that may put her at higher risk for complications from the anesthesia. Bloodwork is done on Maggie, often on-site, to check kidney levels, liver function, red and white blood cell counts, and several other factors. If there are problems with her lab work, her vet will call you to explain the problem and what we can do to move forward.

If Maggie’s blood levels are all within normal limits, one of our technicians will shave a bit of fur on one of her front legs to improve vein visibility and avoid pulling her hair out later with the tape, and an I.V. catheter is placed. The surgeon will calculate the dosage for Maggie’s antibiotic and pain medication and she is given the injection.

After listening closely to Maggie’s heart and lungs, her surgeon will slowly give the anesthetic via her I.V. until she is sedated. Then she will be intubated and placed on monitors to keep track of her blood pressure, EKG, pulse rates, oxygen and the amount of carbon dioxide expelled¬†to watch for any problems. She will receive intravenous fluids during surgery to keep her stable and hydrated. She is also wrapped in a patient warmer which stabilizes her body temperature throughout the procedure.

Once her surgeon has finished and stitched up Maggie’s incision, she is placed on a heating pad and watched closely as she wakes up. The surgeon will call to inform Maggie’s owners how the surgery went and that she is recovering. If necessary, she is kept overnight and monitored by our technician, and she may receive more I.V. fluids to ensure that she has recovered completely before being sent home to you. Her I.V. catheter should be removed before her departure and replaced with a pressure wrap to avoid blood seeping from the catheter site. This wrap can be removed after an hour at home.

Every operation is different, but these are some of the things that we do to ensure that each surgery is successful. We work hard and strive to meet the highest standards of care for your furry family member, so that she can be back to herself as quickly as possible.

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