You will have many questions both before and after surgery; following are answers to most commonly asked ones.
1. Will my pet have to stay overnight?
In general, if your pet has had a major sx procedure, he or she will stay in the hospital a minimum of one night. Overnight hospitalization allows us to carefully monitor your pet for any complications that may occur post surgically and provide an appropriate level of pain management. Different surgical procedures may require longer durations in the hospital.
2. Can I visit my pet after surgery?
We understand that putting your pet through a surgery can be a stressful time for you and your pet. We want your pet to recover as calmly and quietly as possible during its post surgery recovery. Sometimes, when visiting, pets can become overly anxious or excited when they see their owners. For this reason we like to discourage visiting on the day of surgery. You are more than welcome to call to check on your pet at anytime.
3. What kind of care will my pet need when I bring him/her home?
You will receive formal discharge instructions from one of our surgery nurses. Your nurse will review everything with you including; exercise restrictions, medications, physical therapy, bandage care, suture removal, etc. They will also provide you with a comprehensive discharge letter written by your pet's surgeon. Any other questions you may have about post surgery recovery will also be answered at that time.
4. How long will the surgery take?
Each pet is an individual and so is every surgery. Typically your pet will be anesthetized for a minimum of one hour with the total anesthetic time dependent upon the exact procedure performed.
5. What does restricted exercise mean?
Please consider that your pet has just undergone MAJOR surgery and requires a minimum of several weeks for full recovery, even longer if the surgery was orthopedic. Exercise restriction includes no running, jumping, or unlimited access to stairs. Rough play with children or other pets is prohibited during recuperation. Your pet should be confined to a limited, safe environment and leash-walked several times a day for bathroom breaks only. There should be no unrestricted activity of any kind. We will provide sedative drugs if you feel your pet requires them. Strict adherence to these restrictions will help your pet recover as quickly and as completely as possible.
6. Can my regular family veterinarian remove the sutures?
For your convenience, your regular veterinarian can remove the sutures. However, as your pet’s surgeon, we prefer to perform the procedure ourselves as it gives us another opportunity to recheck your pet and for you to ask any questions. If you feel there are ANY questions about the sutures or the incision we strongly recommend the suture removal be done by our staff.
7. Should I put anything on the incision?
Normally skin incisions heal very rapidly: salves, ointments, and creams are often more irritating that just leaving it alone. Monitor the incision for irritation which may include drainage. Most incisions have a mildly red appearance and can have bruising as well; however, if you feel the incision is infected, please call.
8. After surgery, when is the soonest that my pet can have a bath?
You pet may be safely bathed after suture removal. However, be certain that the bathing site/location and surface are ‘sure footed’ so that patients who have had orthopedic surgery are not struggling to stand. If your pet has a bandage in place, then bathing must wait until bandage removal.
9. What do I feed my pet after surgery?
Typically we recommend that you feed his/her normal food. There are certain surgeries however in which a special, or modified diet will be recommended. If your pet has special nutritional or dietary requirements, please let us know at your initial visit. In general, during recovery (especially for orthopedic surgeries), we recommend that you feed ~20% less than you typically would to reduce the chance of excessive weight gain in the post-operative period.
10. What if my pet’s bandage gets wet?
Wet bandages, for any reason, need to be replaced immediately. In some cases, a wet bandage can be worse than no bandage at all! Please see our bandage care handout for additional information.
11. My pet hasn’t had a BM yet, and it is 2 days postoperative. What should I do?
This is usually perfectly normal. It is not uncommon for pets to take a couple of days to have a normal bowel movement after surgery. This is mainly due to their having been fasted prior to surgery. In addition, many pets have been given morphine derivative pain medications as well as epidural analgesics which can affect their appetite during their hospital stay as well as slowing down their gastrointestinal movement. However, if your pet is straining to defecate or having diarrhea you should call us or bring your pet in to be assessed by one of the doctors. Sometimes, simply increasing the amount of fiber in the diet for 4-5 days can be helpful. Please ask our nurses for dosage for your sized pet.
12. My dog was just recently anesthetized/sedated for something else. Is it safe for him to undergo anesthesia again so soon?
For most pets it is not a problem to undergo another episode of anesthesia as long as your pet did not have any adverse reactions to the first experience and your pet is otherwise healthy. If there were any reactions to this sedation please bring that to our attention. We may wish to choose a different anesthetic protocol more suitable to your pet. Generally, anesthetic protocols are tailored to each pet's medical and/or surgical condition.
13. When/how soon after surgery can I feed my dog?
Your pet will be released from the hospital as soon as he or she is comfortable and able to eat and drink. Some pets refuse to eat while hospitalized and this is one of the reasons that we try to discharge your pet as soon as they are recovered and no longer require hospitalization.
14. I can feel a "lump" at the end of the incision. Is this something to worry about?
Once your pet is home with you we ask that you check the incision daily. A lump under the incision may be something as insignificant as a suture knot or a mild suture reaction (most common reason). But, a lump could also indicate something more serious (much less common) and should be assessed by your doctor.
15. My dog was sent home with medications. Can I give them at the same time?
Many medications can be given at the same time. We will discuss with you at discharge how all medications should be given and answer any questions that you have. We will also discuss with you any potential reactions that you should be looking for after you begin giving your pet any medication. If, at any time, you feel your pet is having a reaction to a medication you should call immediately and speak with one of the doctors.
16. Will I need to see the Doctor to have the sutures removed & is there an additional cost?
There is no additional cost for routine suture removals as this service is included in the surgery fees. Technician appointments are made between the hours of:
8am - 12pm & 2pm - 4pm Monday through Friday.
There is no additional cost for this appointment as it is included in the surgery fees.
17. If my pet has any problems after I bring Him/Her home from having surgery who should I call?
If you feel that the problems you are encountering are related directly to the surgery or current condition being treated by one of the surgeons at Veterinary Surgical Centers of the Delta, it is recommended that you call our facility at any time 24 hours/day to consult with either a Surgery Technician or an after-hours EMS Technician. These ‘advice nurses’ are trained to answer most questions and to consult directly with the on-call doctor in case of emergency.
18. Will someone call me with instructions on how to take care of my pet once I bring Him/Her home after surgery?
Surgical Discharge instructions are set as Technician appointments. Times for Discharges are determined by the Surgeon after morning rounds at 8am Monday - Friday. Progress updates on all patients Monday - Friday are available at 10am. If your pet is being discharged on a Saturday, please call for a progress update at 9am. It is important for your pet’s home care that the post-operative instructions be presented and discussed with you in person. Each of the medications are explained to you along with dosage times, and you are shown what the surgical site looks like by the Surgery Technician before your pet goes home. This will aid in your assessment of the incisions/surgical areas healing while at home. We will always provide you with written discharge instructions by the surgeon who performed your pet’s surgery. In the event that you have any additional questions after you get home, a copy of these discharge instructions will be placed in your pet’s chart for reference by any other staff member.