What to Know When Dog Surgery Has Been Recommended
At La Jolla Veterinary Hospital, we understand that it can be frightening to receive the news that a dog surgery is being recommended. It is important to understand that it is a recommendation that our veterinarians do not take lightly. If one of our veterinarians is recommending a surgical procedure, rest assured that it is with the best interest of your dog in mind. It is important to us that you understand the reasons why a surgical procedure is being recommended and are able to comfortably make the right decisions regarding your dog's health.
Canine surgical procedures fall into two categories where your dog is concerned, elective procedures and those that are urgently necessary.
The most common elective dog surgery procedures include:
- Dental extractions
- Benign growths of the skin
Some common urgent care surgical procedures include:
- Skin lacerations or abscesses
- Intestinal obstruction from a foreign body
- Internal bleeding
- Torn cruciate or ACL ruptures
- Fracture repair
- Malignant skin tumors
- Bladder stones/urethral blockages
- Spleen cancer
Most Dog Surgeries Are Considered to Be Low Risk
Surgery always carries with it numerous concerns ranging from potential complications to prognosis for recovery. However, because veterinary medicine has progressed to encompass all modern considerations, the risks are very low to your dog having any major complications from most surgeries.
Making the Decision to Proceed With Dog Surgery
The decision to do surgery involves a discussion with the owner about possible complications and all factors to be considered when deciding what is best for your dog. Factors to think about when considering dog surgery include:
- The age and general health of the dog
- Potential complications from the surgery
- Potential outcome if surgery is not done
- Recovery time and post-op care required by the owner
- Physical Therapy/Rehabilitation
Although the decision to have your dog undergo surgery is ultimately up to you, our veterinary team will present you with all the facts and possible outcomes to help you make an informed, ethical and compassionate decision that is in the best interest of both you and your loyal canine friend.
Dog Pre-Surgical Instructions
Dog pre-surgical instructions vary depending on the type of procedure being performed, and whether or not the dog surgery is emergency or planned. However, we will provide you with a set of dog pre-surgical instructions that can be used as a general guideline for preoperative preparations:
- Follow your vet's recommendations for feeding and drinking the day before and/or the morning of the surgery.
- Most surgeries are done on a fasted dog. In general, you will be asked to not feed your dog after midnight the night before the procedure.
- Most dogs are allowed to drink until the morning of the surgery.
- Be on time for your canine surgery, as most veterinarians schedule surgeries very tightly, and delays potentially threaten the wellbeing of the tardy dog, as well as the other dogs in line.
- Listen carefully to post-surgical instruction from your veterinary care team and call the hospital if you have any questions regarding post-op care for your dog.
Dog anesthesia is extremely safe when the patients are stabilized before the procedure and all effort is made to have a good understanding of the dog's medical condition before surgery. There is always some risk to anesthesia, however, the risk is extremely low when being performed by a highly qualified veterinarian and surgical team.
Recovery from surgery depends upon the length of the surgery, the age of the dog, and the amount of pain medication required to keep your dog free from any post-operative pain. Some things to be aware of post anesthesia include:
- It is normal for your dog to be groggy or disoriented for a few hours after receiving a general anesthetic.
- Your dog might sleep deeper or longer for 24 hours after receiving dog anesthesia.
- Your dog might be lethargic for 24 hours after anesthesia due to the dulling effects of anesthesia.
- You might need to help your dog balance during feeding and bathroom breaks for the first 24 hours after surgery.
- Consult your veterinarian for any feeding and/or comfort tips they can provide depending on what kind of dog anesthesia was used, and what surgical procedure was performed.
Always remember to call us if you have any questions about your dog's recovery.
Post Surgical Care for Dogs
Just like dog pre-surgery instructions, dog surgery recovery protocols and care vary depending on the type of procedure performed, and whether or not the surgery was an emergency. However, we will provide you with a set of dog surgery recovery instructions that can be used as a general guideline for postoperative care:
- If you are leaving your dog during surgery, make sure you know when you should return for pickup.
- For routine procedures, most dogs can go home a few hours after waking up from anesthesia.
- For advanced or emergency procedures, extended stays of 24 hours or longer may be necessary in order to monitor vital signs and deliver critical care.
- If you did not do so beforehand, make sure to receive and understand all recovery information, including:
- The administering of medication, food, and water
- The changing of bandages, cleaning of stitches, etc.
- Assisted care tips
- Follow up appointment scheduling
- At home, allow your dog to recover in a warm, quiet space of his or her choosing (if possible) to increase comfort and reduce stress.
- For the first 24 hours, monitor your dog closely as he or she recovers. Always call if you have any concerns.
- Limit outdoor exposure for at least 24 hours to supervised and if necessary, assisted bathroom breaks.
- Consult your veterinarian for more information on the necessity and duration of limited or restricted outdoor exposure.
- Suture care (stitches): Most surgeries will require some sutures. Your veterinary staff will review the after-care which will include keeping the dogs from licking the incision.
- Most dogs will be sent home with an Elizabethan Collar to ensure they do not lick or bite out the sutures.
- Monitor the incision for possible signs of infection which will include redness or swelling.
- Continue to follow your dog's recovery program until told to alter or discontinue it by your veterinarian.
If you need to discuss surgical options or schedule surgery for your dog, reach out to us today. Caring dog people, our veterinary staff are happy to help ease the stress and fear associated with dog surgery for you and your canine friend alike.