Surgical and Dental Procedures: What to Expect
If your pet is scheduled for a surgical or dental procedure, it can be scary not knowing what their day will be like. Below is a general idea of how our hospital takes care of your pet.
Night Before Procedure
The night before your pet’s scheduled procedure, our front desk staff will instruct you to discontinue food by 8pm. Water is OK throughout the rest of the night. Fasting helps prevent complications during anesthesia, such as regurgitation and aspiration pneumonia.
Day of Procedure
You should plan to arrive for intake at our hospital between 9-10am the morning of the procedure (unless otherwise discussed with your vet). All pets will receive a full physical exam by your vet to assess for any changes since their last visit and to answer any questions or concerns you may have about the procedure. Don’t be afraid to ask!
After physical exam, we will draw blood for pre-anesthetic testing. These tests help identify other potential conditions that may be affecting your pet and assess their anesthetic risk. All surgical and dental procedures require pre-anesthetic bloodwork. Further diagnostics, such as x-rays may be required depending the procedure being performed. Any changes to your pet’s plan based on diagnostics will be discussed with you prior to sedation.
Once your pet is cleared for sedation, an IV catheter will be placed, generally in one of their front legs. IV fluids are used throughout anesthesia to allow us to maintain blood pressure. IV fluids are required on all surgical and dental procedures at our hospital (except for routine spays and neuters; this does not include bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds). Animals are then sedated and intubated for the remainder of their operation or dental. The protocol for sedation is made based upon each animal’s specific needs, taking into consideration things like age and conditions being treated. Pets are monitored closely while under anesthesia with a variety of methods including EKG and pulse oximetry. Your pet will also be closely monitored as they recover from anesthesia and their endotracheal tube is removed. All pets are provided with appropriate antibiotic and pain management throughout their time in the hospital. Recovery time can vary based on medications used, but generally, within a few hours, pets are able to walk around safely.
Depending on the procedure your pet has undergone, your vet will discuss when they can be sent home. Some pets go home the same evening, while others may spend at least one night. Instructions for at home care will be given when you come in to pick up your pet. Dates for suture removal and rechecks will also be discussed at this time.
Anesthesia, whether in humans or animals, comes with risk. We try to minimize this risk in a variety of ways. We note any physical exam changes, use pre-anesthetic bloodwork, IV fluids, individualized sedation protocols, and anesthesia monitoring. Unfortunately, unexpected complications can arise, but we take every measure possible to prevent them.
Day After Procedure
Some animals may experience a degree of constipation after anesthesia due to slow down of the GI tract. If this occurs for longer than 48-72 hours, your pet should be rechecked by a vet. If your pet has an incision(s), it should be checked daily for any changes (swelling, redness, drainage, etc.). A small amount of slightly bloody or clear discharge from incisions is normal in the first day or so after surgery. Any changes should be addressed by a vet.
Animals scheduled for dental procedures follow the above information but with a few changes. A brief oral exam will be performed while your pet is awake in addition to their full physical exam. Once sedated, a full oral exam will be performed. The teeth are first cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler similar to those used by human dentists. The tartar is removed and scaling continues under the gums to remove any bacteria and tartar that is unseen. Teeth are then polished and the gums around each tooth are probed for any pockets that are abnormal. Based on those findings, dental x-rays will be taken of affected areas (digital dental x-rays coming May 2018 to Woodbridge Vet Group!). Together with x-rays and physical exam findings, decisions for tooth extraction will be made at that time. Nerve blocks are used make extractions as comfortable as possible.