Homer Veterinary Clinic, P.C. - Homer, AK - Surgical FAQ's

Homer Veterinary Clinic

326 Woodside Avenue
Homer, AK 99603



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 anesthetics, highly trained veterinary technician staff and pre-surgical assessments have made surgery much safer than in the past.  We do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, to ensure that a fever or other illness won't be a problem.  We select the anesthetic drugs and dosages with your individual pets' specific needs along with any pre-existing condition assessed.   

Preanesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia.  Every pet needs blood testing before surgery to ensure that internal organs are healthy to handle both the drugs used for anesthesia and the stresses posed by anesthesia along a complete blood cell count to determine any pre-existing infection/inflammation or anemia and the ability to clot effectively.  Even apparently healthy animals can have serious organ system problems that cannot be detected without blood testing.  If there is a problem, it is essential to learn this before it causes anesthetic or surgical complications.  Animals that have minor dysfunction will handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV fluids during surgery.  If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected. A pre-surgical EKG (electrocardiogram) is routinely used for patients with a history of cardiac disease, aged animals or in conditions where cardiac stability is a concern. These are done in the clinic immediately prior to the surgery and using telemedicine reviewed by a veterinary cardiologist prior to proceeding with anesthesia.

It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting immediately before, during and after anesthesia.  You will need to withhold food for at least 8 to 10 hours before surgery.  Water can be left down for the 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.  Most dogs and cats do not lick excessively or chew at the incision, but this is an occasional problem 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 10 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 we understand that pain management is a central part of the care they deserve always.  Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed.  Major procedures require more pain relief than procedures like minor lacerations.

For dogs, we 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 and can be given even the morning of surgery.

Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol, we stay current with all recent advances in pain management for cats that provide better pain control in cats.  For routine spay/neuter cat surgeries each patient routinely spends the night before with us and then receive their first pain management medication in the morning before any procedures start and all go home with a multi-day pack of pain control medications.

We use narcotic patches/constant rate infusions of various pain medications for more involved surgeries and medical cases in all species. 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 may be the time to do an 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, we will need to 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork/consent forms.  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 with one of our veterinary technicians or assistants or your veterinarian.

We will call you the night 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.