Preparing your pet for surgery


Everything you need to know to prepare your pet for surgery

Surgery and anesthesia are part of every pet's life. Some of these circumstances are planned surgical events, such as a spay, neuter, or dental procedure. Other times, emergencies may arise, such as intestinal obstruction, bladder stones, or laceration repair that require immediate surgery. 

Regardless of the reason, surgery and anesthesia can create a lot of anxiety and confusion for owners. By knowing what is expected and preparing yourself and your per, the surgical procedure, hospital stay, and home recovery can go a lot more smoothly. This information will help you feel more comfortable with the process of anesthesia and surgery in addition to providing tips to help prepare your pet and home for their procedure.

Your Pet's Pre-Surgical Exam

The pre-surgical exam is an important step in the process. It allows your veterinarian to give your pet a complete physical exam and discuss the surgery and anesthesia with you. General Booth Veterinary Hospital is very committed to anesthetic safety as a crucial component of surgery. Your veterinarian will discuss our anesthetic protocols and your pet's surgical procedure so you feel more comfortable and knowledgeable about their surgery. A treatment plan will also be provided at this visit to ensure you have full knowledge of the procedure and costs.

Before the Surgery

At least a week before surgery, make sure your pet is up to date on all of their preventative care to ensure they are healthy for anesthesia and surgery. This care includes:


     1. Vaccines - Rabies, DHPP, Bordetella

     2. Parasitic Disease Screening - Testing for heartworm disease and 3 types of tick disease (Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasmosis) 

     3. Intestinal Parasite Screening - Testing for roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms that can be contagious to other pets or, potentially, humans


     1. Vaccines - Rabies and FVRCP (feline distemper) and Feline Leukemia-FeLV (indoor/outdoor only)

     2. Infectious Disease Screening - if your cat goes outdoors - Heartworm, FeLV, and FIV

     3. Intestinal Parasite Screening - Testing for roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms that can be contagious to other pets or, potentially, humans


These vaccinations should be administered at least 5 days before surgery to allow them to stimulate the immune system and provide protection for your pet. Vaccines do not protect your pet immediately after being administered. These preventative health care services are for the safety of your pet and the safety of other pets in the hospital.


Pre-anesthetic Screening Labwork

A Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Serum Chemistry will be performed as a pre-anesthetic screening to assess internal organ function (Liver and Kidney). This will be used to help the doctor make the best anesthetic risk assessment and determine the anesthetic protocol. The doctor will call to discuss the pre-anesthetic labwork before the procedure date.


The Night Before Surgery

If your pet is on medication, call your veterinarian to see if you should administer the medication the morning of surgery. For some drugs, continuing the dose is important, and other times it is best to have an empty stomach for surgery.

Try to prevent your pet from playing rough or going on long walks the day before surgery. This can result in muscle soreness the following day, something your pet doesn't need. They will already be sour from surgery - they don't need muscle soreness on top of it.

Check with your veterinarian to see if your pet requires a special diet following surgery. If so, you can purchase the special food in advance or make a homemade diet, if that is an option, and store it in your refrigerator. You will want to spend time with your pet when they return from the hospital, not frantically trying to find or make food they need.

Consider cleaning your pet's bedding just before surgery. this way, they can come home to a nice, clean bed which can help reduce the risk for infection.

If your pet will require limited activity following surgery, section off an area of the house or prepare a crate. Trying to do so once they've come home is much more difficult and stressful. By preparing in advance, you can place them immediately in their own special area with a fresh, clean bed.

Make sure your pet eats dinner the night before, but also make sure to remember that they do not eat anything after 8:00 PM. They can have access to water, but we recommend picking up the water bowl in the morning if your pet is known to drink a lot of water in the morning. This is very important. If your pet eats before surgery, make sure to tell your veterinarian. And finally, make sure your pet gets a good night's sleep. Being fully rested is an important factor in reducing the stress and anxiety associated with surgery, for both you and your companion.


The Morning of Surgery

Don't allow your pet to eat anything. Take them for a short walk to help encourage elimination. Many pets' normal eliminations are thrown off by the change in their morning routine, so it is helpful that we give them extra time to urinate and have a bowel movement. Allow yourself plenty of time to arrive at the veterinary hospital on time. Being late can put undue stress on your veterinarian, the staff, and your pet. Make sure you leave a contact number so that you can be called when your pet is done or reached during the procedure if needed.


Home Care After Surgery

Once your pet returns home following surgery, it is very important to follow your veterinarian's instructions and call anytime you have a question. Restrict your pet's activity, even if they seem to be doing fine, to allow incisions to heal. Make sure they do not lick or chew at their sutures and their appetite and attitude are normal. If your pet was sent home with an E-collar (the cone). make sure they are wearing it at all times. 

If your pet seems to be acting abnormal or appears to be in pain, contact your veterinarian, Do not give medications not recommended by your veterinarian. Certain over-the-counter anti-inflammatories that are quite effective in people have the potential to be toxic in our pets.

We understand surgery can be stressful for you and your pet. Our team is here to provide all of the information, support, and medical care you need to help your pet have the best possible outcome. Thank you for trusting us with your family member's healthcare.


Pre-Surgical Instructions

*Please read and follow the steps below to prepare your pet for surgery. This information is provided with your pet's safety in mind.

     1. No food after 8 pm

     2. Admittance for surgery is 8 am the day of surgery. If your pet isn't here by 8:30 am, you may have to reschedule

     3. ***COVID 19 Curbside*** Due to our current curbside protocols, the doctor will call you during the week before discussing the procedure. 

     4. After surgery, the doctor or nurse will call to update you on your pet's condition and advise a discharge time.

     5. Any animal scheduled for surgery must have been out of the SPCA, Animal Control, pet store, or breeder for at least two full weeks. This is to ensure they do not have kennel cough or upper respiratory infections.

Postsurgical Care

The surgery staff will check on your pet throughout the hospital stay and again just before discharge. At that time we will discuss all post-surgical care and instructions.