Ford's Prairie Animal Clinic

2530 Harrison Ave.
Centralia, WA 98531


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



Many people have questions about their pet's surgery.  We hope this information will prove helpful.

Is the anesthetic safe?

Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past.  At Ford's Prairie Animal Clinic, we perform a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthesia to ensure that your pet is in good health.  We adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the age and health of your pet.

Pre-anesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia.  Every pet should be blood tested 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 intravenous fluids during surgery.  If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.

We offer several levels of in-house blood testing before surgery.  We will review these options when you drop your pet off for surgery.  Our doctors prefer the more comprehensive screen because it gives them the most information to ensure the safety of your pet.  For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests or x-rays may be needed before surgery as well.

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 hours before surgery.  Water can be left down for the pet until the morning of surgery.

Will my pet have stitches?

For many surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin.  These will dissolve on their own and do not need to be removed later.  Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, do require skin stitches.  With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge.  Most dogs and cats do not lick excessively or chew at the incision.  However, you should monitor the incision site closely until healing is complete.  If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed 14 days after surgery.  You will also need to limit your pet's activity level during the healing process.

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 but you can be sure they feel it.  Pain medications needed will depend on the type of surgery performed.  Major procedures require more pain relief than minor procedures such as laceration repair.

All surgery patients will be given an injection for pain before the time of surgery.  We also recommend an oral anti-inflammatory medication be sent home to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling.  We use newer medications which are less likely to cause stomach upset.  The cost of the medication ranges from $10 to $15 depending on the size of your dog or cat.  All feline declaw surgeries will be sent home with oral pain medication.

We use narcotic patches for some surgeries in dogs and cats as well.  The cost will depend on the size of the pet.  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 dentistry, 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 5 to 10 minutes of your time to fill out paperwork and make decisions on 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.

Please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.