Questions About Anesthesia & Surgery
Is anesthesia safe?
Surgical risk and anesthetic risk are, at times, quite different.
Anesthetic risk relates to equipment, instrumentation/monitoring, vigilance, and expertise of the person who appropriately and adequately administers the anesthetic drugs. A dedicated, well-trained anesthetist who monitors your pet's changing status during general anesthesia is necessary for your pet's well-being.
Your doctor should discuss factors that increase your pet's anesthetic risk and their precautions to increase pets' safety. Always ask who will monitor your pet's anesthesia and health status during surgery.
Surgeons can safely anesthetize nearly all pets, but there isn't one anesthetic protocol that's appropriate and safe for all animals. Our responsibility is to provide safe anesthesia specifically tailored to your pet and anticipate, recognize, and treat complications.
In short, one might say there's no such thing as safe anesthesia. There are only safe anesthetists!
Questions About Recovery
Is the recovery process complicated?
Rather than considering it difficult, let's call it challenging. There's a lot to get used to in the first couple of weeks, especially if you've never experienced caring for an animal that's had an orthopedic procedure. Your dog has a lot to process, too. We provide discharge instructions to instruct you on various topics, including medications, wound healing, activity restrictions, and follow-up appointments.
There are three phases in your pet's postoperative care:
- Immediate Postoperative
- Home Care and Convalescence
- Rehabilitation and Full Recovery
Following major surgery, your pet will typically remain hospitalized for 24-48 hours with continuous and individualized care provided by veterinary technicians for complete anesthesia/surgery recovery, pain management, and general nursing support. We encourage patient visits and phone calls during this time and recommend waiting at least four hours postop to allow your pet to wake up from anesthesia. We will administer injectable pain medications during hospitalization, monitor vital signs continuously, and offer food, water, and comfort. We allow owners to make their pet's stay as secure, restful, and calm as possible, so feel free to bring your pet's favorite blanket, toy, or food.
Home Care and Convalescence Period
This period begins when you've taken your pet home and may last anywhere from a few weeks to a month or more. You'll follow the directions included in the written instructions provided to you. You'll examine your pet's incision(s) daily. We may ask you to apply cold packs to the surgery site to promote healing and soothe the pain. You'll also administer medications.
Anesthesia, administration of opioids (pain medications), lack of food preoperatively, and difficulty posturing could cause your pet to not defecate for up to three days postop.
Running, jumping, and playing are not allowed during this period to promote uncomplicated healing.
Especially during the summer months, we ask that you apply sunscreen to shaved areas but not to the incision itself to protect from sunburn. Stubble grows within three weeks of surgery, and complete regrowth of hair occurs around three months after surgery.
We recheck pets at least two to three times after surgery. The first appointment is to remove bandages, sutures, or staples from the skin. Doctors assess healing at every follow-up appointment, and staff will contact you several times to check on progress and answer your questions.
Rehabilitation and Full Recovery Period
We schedule a recheck exam with your surgeon at the end of the Home Care and Convalescence Period. Depending on the length of the confinement period, we recommend a gradual return to regular activity. As your pet may have been relatively inactive during the recovery period, you should reintroduce exercise slowly. We will outline a simple plan for increasing leash walks, swimming, etc., or recommend an organized physical therapy regimen.
After how many days will sutures or staples be removed?
Veterinary professionals remove sutures around 10-14 days after surgery. Some sutures dissolve and don't require removal.
Questions About Surgery & Medication
Can my pet eat or drink before surgery?
If your pet has a procedure that requires anesthesia, you shouldn't give food or treats 8 to 10 hours before your appointment time. Your pet is allowed to drink water only.
Can my pet eat or drink before consultations and follow-up appointments?
Yes. If your dog needs fasting for any reason, we'll be sure to let you know ahead of time.
Is my pet too old for anesthesia or surgery?
Age alone is not a risk factor for general anesthesia. At ACOSM, we specialize in safely administering anesthesia and performing surgery on senior pets, too.
What precautions do you take to reduce infection?
We follow sterile operating room protocols similar to those used in human hospitals. We administer a long-acting antibiotic and supply antibiotics you'll give at home. Experience allows surgeons to perform surgeries more quickly than less experienced doctors. The less time your pet spends in the operating room, the better its odds of not developing an infection.
How do you monitor sedated surgical patients?
Several members of our surgical team monitor pets during surgery. While pets are under general anesthesia, dedicated staff monitor heart rate, blood pressure, pulse oximetry, body temperature, end-tidal CO2, and inhalant anesthetic agent throughout the procedure.
Where do I get antibiotics or pain medication for my pet after the procedure?
We can dispense medications directly, or if you prefer, we may be able to have some prescriptions filled at your local pharmacy.
Will my dog stay overnight, and if so, is your hospital staffed?
Yes. Following major surgery, we typically hospitalize pets for 24-48 hours with continual individualized attention provided by veterinary technicians for complete anesthesia and surgery recovery, pain management, and general nursing support.