Epping Road Veterinary Hospital

120 Epping Road
Exeter, NH 03833



What You Need to Know Before Surgery

Many people have questions about various aspects of their pet's surgery, and we hope this information will help.  It also explains the decisions you will need to make before your pet's upcoming surgery.

Is the anesthetic safe?

Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past.  Here at Epping Road Veterinary Hospital, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, to ensure that a fever or other illness won't be a concern.  We adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used based on your pet's age, breed, species and health status.

Pre-anesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia.  Every pet needs blood testing before surgery to ensure the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic.  Even apparently healthy animals  can have serious organ system concerns that cannot be detected without blood  testing.  If there is a concern, it is much better to discover the concern before it causes anesthetic or  surgical complications.  If serious concerns are detected, surgery  can be postponed until the concern is corrected.

We recommend a comprehensive complete blood cell count (checking red blood cells for anemia and white blood cells for infections as well as platelets for clotting) and full chemistry including kidney and liver values, blood sugar and electrolytes.  This testing gives us valuable information to ensure the safety of your pet.  For geriatric or ill pets, additional blood tests, echocardiogram, or radiographs may be required before surgery as well.

It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia.  We recommend withholding food after 9 pm the night prior to your pet's procedure.  Water can be left down for your pet until the morning of surgery.


Will my pet have stitches?

For many surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin.  These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later.  Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, do require skin stitches.  With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge.  Many dogs and cats do not lick excessively or chew at the incision, but this is a concern you will also need to watch for.  If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery.  You will also need to limit your pet's activity level for a time and no baths are allowed for the first 14 days after surgery.


Will my pet be in pain?

Anything that causes pain in people can be expected to cause pain in animals.  Pets may not show the same symptoms of pain as people do; they usually don't whine or cry, but you can be sure they feel it.  Pain medications are tailored to the surgery performed.  Major procedures require more pain relief than minor events.

For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflammatory the day after surgery and several days after to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling.  We use newer medications, which are less likely to cause stomach upset. It is important to use prescription anti-inflammatory medication from your veterinarian as these are made specifically for animals.  Many human anti-inflammatories, such as Tylenol, Advil, Motrin etc., can be toxic to our pets and lead to serious complications.

Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, we are limited in what we can give them.  Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before.  After surgery, pain medication will be sent home with your cat.

Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication. Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is a humane and caring thing to do for your pet.


What other decisions do I need to make?

While your pet is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures, such as ear cleaning or implanting an identification microchip.  If you would like an estimate for these extra services, please call ahead of time.  This is especially important if the person dropping the pet off for surgery is not the primary decision maker for the pet's care.

When you bring your pet in for surgery, please plan on meeting with a staff member to review your pet's treatment plan and paperwork for the day.  When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan to spend about 10 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs. At the time you bring your pet in the morning of the procedure, we will schedule a time for you to pick up your pet that evening.  This will allow us to review your pet's individual instructions for home nursing care and answer any questions you may have.

We will call you the week before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm the time you will be dropping your pet off and to answer any questions you might have.  In the meantime, please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.  At ERVH we feel that your pet's healthcare and recovery is a team effort between you and the doctors and staff of this hospital.  We welcome you to call with any questions or concerns during your pet's convalescence.