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A Day In The Life of a Surgery Patient

It’s understandable for owners to be anxious when they drop off their beloved pet for surgery. We hope we can make people feel more comfortable about the process by explaining the steps involved.

At some point in your pet’s life, he or she will likely need a surgical procedure. This may be an elective surgery, such as a spay or neuter; a dental cleaning; or surgery to deal with a specific problem or illness. Regardless of the reason, the process generally begins with checking blood values. This helps us to ensure that there are no underlying conditions that could affect how your pet responds to surgery or anesthesia. In some cases, your pet may be started on medications prior to surgery. A good example is the use of antibiotics prior to a dental cleaning, which helps to cut down on harmful bacteria in the mouth.

On the morning of surgery, a technician will take a few minutes to talk to you about the day’s procedure and answer any further questions you may have. After your departure, the technician will get the pet’s initial vital signs. Vital signs include your pets’ heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature and weight. Soon after, the doctor will examine your pet and make sure there are no health changes or concerns. Next, the pet is given pre-anesthetic medications to help ensure that he or she is pain free, relaxed and comfortable. When the pet is relaxed, the surgical technician will place an intravenous catheter into the pet’s front leg. This allows us to administer anesthetic drugs as well as fluid support to maintain blood pressure and protect vital organs.

At Cole Park Veterinary Hospital, we take great efforts to choose the safest and most effective methods of anesthesia. Anesthesia is induced using a quick acting intravenous drug and then a tube is placed into the animal’s windpipe and oxygen and anesthetic gas is delivered. This is called intubation. Intubation allows us to keep the pet safely asleep and ensure that their airway is maintained and protected.

Immediately, we begin monitoring all vital statistics. We have trained surgical nurses and top quality equipment to monitor your pet’s blood pressure, oxygen saturation, electrocardiogram (EKG), Carbon dioxide levels, heart rate, respiratory rate and temperature. During the surgery, the patient is checked every 5 minutes and the animal is maintained on intravenous fluids.

Surgeries are preformed to the highest standard of care using sterile techniques to minimize any chance of complications. When your pet’s surgery is complete, the animal remains on oxygen and is watched closely until awake enough to remove the endotracheal tube. The rest of the day the pet is generally still drowsy and is allowed to rest comfortably in a warm cage.

That evening, you will pick up your pet, please allow time to talk with the doctor and technician to make sure we can explain fully all post surgery instructions for the week. Most pets will go home on a few days of medication to control any pain that they may be experiencing. In general, pets are back to normal by the next day or two. Of course, if you have any questions about your pet’s recovery we are here to help.

-MEGAN HARRIS DVM

 

 

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