On the day of surgery, after your pet is admitted, a physical examination will be performed, and any needed testing will be done unless it has previously been performed. Once the test results are back and everything looks OK, your pet will be prepared for surgery. Your pet will usually be given a sedative at this point, which will help to calm and relax him, followed by an intravenous anesthetic (may not be necessary in smaller pets) and then a gas anesthetic. For most species, an endotracheal tube will be placed in the trachea to protect the airway and to administer the gas anesthetic that will keep your pet unconscious during the procedure.
During surgery, several types of monitors are often used to make sure that your pet is doing well. These may include a heart rate monitor, which counts the number of heartbeats per minute, and a pulse oximeter, which monitors the amount of oxygen in the blood. Sometimes an ECG monitor may be used, which shows a tracing of the electrical activity of the heart. The type of monitor used often varies with the type and length of the surgery, and the species of animal. Birds, reptiles, and small pets will often be placed on a specially heated pad to keep them warm during the procedure. Intravenous fluids will often be given during surgery and for a short period thereafter.
Once the surgery is over, the anesthesia is stopped and the pet is allowed to wake up in a quiet area where he can be monitored until he is able to move around safely on his own. This may take several hours to overnight, depending on the type and length of the surgery. Birds, reptiles, small animals, or very young pets are often placed in an incubator to prevent them from becoming hypothermic (chilled). Although you will be anxious to take your pet home with you, it is best for him to stay in the hospital where he can be monitored until the veterinarian feels it is safe for him to leave. During this time, your veterinarian can also provide any needed pain medication.
You will feel less anxious about taking a pet in for surgery if you understand what is going to be done, and why. If you have questions, always ask.
What to Expect After the Day of Your Pet's Surgery
Excessive licking of the incision site can cause infection or reopen the incision. If you aren’t able to keep your pet from licking the area, you can use an Elizabethan collar, also called an E collar, which will prevent your animal from being able to reach the incision site. E collars are typically made of hard plastic but also available are Elizabethan style collars that are made of a more flexible material.
A pet who is too active after surgery can reopen an incision site and can also lead to infection. If your dog insists on being active while he/she is still healing, you can use a crate to restrict activity. To prevent boredom, give him a toy or a treat ball like a Kong to keep him stimulated.
For cats, you may consider isolating your pet in a bedroom or a bathroom for a few days to keep your cat from being too active while healing is taking place. Make sure the cat has toys to keep him or her entertained and spend some one on one time with your cat to prevent loneliness.
You should check the incision site daily to ensure it is healing properly. If you notice there are missing sutures or if the incision appears to be opening up, you should have it looked at by your veterinarian. Some redness is typical after surgery but if it gets worse or you notice any swelling or discharge, you should contact your veterinarian. There may also be a little oozing or bleeding right after surgery, but if it doesn’t stop within a few hours, contact your veterinarian right away.
Be sure to observe your pet for other side effects such as a decreased appetite, not drinking water, vomiting, diarrhea or extreme tiredness. It’s not uncommon for a pet not to want to eat for a few hours after coming home or maybe until the next day, but your pet should be back to normal a day or two after surgery. Notify your veterinarian if your pet still doesn’t want to eat the next day, isn’t drinking water, is vomiting or has diarrhea. So those are just a few of the things to keep a close eye on when caring for your newly spayed or neutered pet.
Anicira has moved!! They are now in a larger facility in Harrisonburg.