Thank you for recognizing the need to spay or neuter your pet. Some people may call around for the best price on surgery, without the knowledge of why the cost varies among veterinary practices. This guide is to help you find the best fit between the veterinary practice and your expectations for the care of your pet.
Questions to ask and why to ask them:
Will my pet receive a physical exam prior to surgery?
This is important for a number of reasons. It is the first defense to find a pet who may have an infectious disease, a high temperature, a heart murmur or other physical problems that may change the type of anesthesia or postpone the surgery.
What safety precautions will be taken with my pet during surgery?
- Pre-surgical blood testing
While the exam can find some problems, only blood work can tell if a pet has borderline health of their kidneys and liver. Most anesthetics are eliminated through these two organs. Even young pets have been found to have problems which can have serious consequences in how they recover from anesthesia. Other tests can include checking for adequate number of platelets, a type of blood cell that helps stop bleeding.
An intravenous catheter allows fluids to be given during the procedure, helping your pet's kidneys and other internal organs function properly during anesthesia. In the event your pet's blood pressure would drop too low, being able to give more fluids is one of the most critical steps to raise it, protecting the kidneys from damage.
- Blood pressure monitoring
Low blood pressure cannot be determined just by looking at a pet under anesthesia. However, low blood pressure during an anesthetic procedure decreases the blood flow to the kidneys, which can damage them. If severe, the pet can go into kidney failure within weeks after surgery, or it can be damage that shows up later in life.
- Gas anesthesia/breathing tube/oxygen
While some surgeries can be done with injectable (IV) anesthesia alone, most major surgeries, including spays, neuters and declaws should be done with the pet having a breathing tube placed in order to give supplemental oxygen and gas anesthesia. Gas anesthesia is usually preferable in these surgeries because the amount can be increased or more importantly, decreased or turned off if there is a problem with your pet. Injectable anesthesia cannot be turned off once it is given.
While laser is not necessarily for your pet's safety, the use of laser surgery definitely reduces the amount of pain your pet feels during and after surgery by sealing nerve endings. This is especially noted in cat declaw procedures. Laser surgery also seals blood vessels, causing less bleeding and less damage to your pet's tissues. This allows for less bruising and better healing.
What safety and comfort precautions will be taken with my pet after surgery?
Surgery patients lose body heat through anesthesia and the opening of their body cavities. Their temperature should be monitored after surgery until they are awake and supplemental heating should be provided as needed. Pain relieving medication should be part of a pet's pre-anesthesia and post surgical medication. Depending on the pet's surgery, pain relieving medication should be sent home as well.
Will I receive written post-surgical care instructions for my pet?
Typically, a veterinary nurse should go over these instructions with you to be sure you understand them and have no other questions on your pet's recovery.
At the Wrightstown Veterinary Clinic, we provide all of the above services. Most pets have only one major surgery in their lives, and we all feel they deserve the safest, most comfortable procedure possible with modern medical and surgical techniques.