Stressed Because of A Pet Surgery? Here's What You Need to Expect Before and After the Procedure
Sun, April 18, 2021

Stressed Because of A Pet Surgery? Here's What You Need to Expect Before and After the Procedure


Most domestic animals like cats, dogs, and rabbits undergo surgery at least once in their lifetime, with most procedures involving neutering or spaying, explained Lauren Jones of Pet Coach, a leading source of free expert advice from verified vets, trainers, and other pet experts. Exotic species of pets such as birds, fish, and reptiles may also undergo surgery. Having your pet undergo surgery can be a scary experience. Hence, your veterinarian can help ease your anxiety by helping you understand what happens during and after surgery.

Management of Veterinary Anesthesia In Small Animals in Quebec (2020)

Geoffrey Truchetti and colleagues of Plos One, a peer-reviewed scientific journal portal, wrote that a questionnaire was designed to evaluate current small animal anesthesia practices in French-speaking Eastern Canada, mainly in Quebec. Among respondents, 55% provided a pamphlet or other information material about the anesthesia procedure and related risk. Those who are in referral centers were less likely to use information material than those in general practices (GP) (11% versus 89%).

In 92% of practices, an informed consent form is provided and signed by the client. 39% of respondents reported calculating emergency drug doses before anesthesia for all procedures, 38% did so for procedures considered at-risk, and 22% never calculated. 93% had access to an emergency crash cart containing drugs and equipment for cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Among emergency drugs, 95% use epinephrine followed by atropine (91%), glycopyrrolate (90%),  doxapram (76%), dobutamine (30%), dopamine (28%), vasopressin (23%), phenylephrine (22%) and ephedrine (15%). Respondents used propofol (84%) for induction for routine surgeries, along with ketamine combined with diazepam (78%), thiopental (66%), alfaxalone (36%), and ketamine alone (32%).

Meanwhile, propofol (85%) is used by respondents for induction of non-routine surgeries, followed by ketamine combined with diazepam (74%), alfaxolone (45%), thiopental (41%), and ketamine alone (39%). 36% of respondents performed anesthesia with injectable agents alone, with those in referral centers more often use this technique than those in GP (62% versus 29%). Drugs used for maintenance were propofol (57%), ketamine (44%), a mix including ketamine, dexmedetomidine and an opioid (39%), and alfaxalone (17%). On the other hand, 4% of respondents noted that patients rarely need analgesia after surgery while 71% never talked about the use of analgesia with owners.



Concerning NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), 63% of respondents use NSAID during recovery, 18% at the same time as premedication, 13% during surgery before the incision, 6% during surgery but after the incision. 82% of the survey participants used NSAID for three to four days after surgery, 9% for seven days, and 9% only administered NSAID once peri-operatively.

Meanwhile, 95% of respondents use opioids after surgery, 11% only administered one dose after surgery, 38% only administered opioids as needs, 46% administered systematically one dose after surgery and repeat as needed, and 5% never used opioid post-surgery. 38% of respondents provide oxygen to the patient using a mask when performing anesthesia with injectable drugs only while 33% placed the oxygen in front of the patient’s nose. 26% of respondents did not provide oxygen to the patient.

According to Truchetti and colleagues, veterinary practices in Quebec do not adhere to the guidelines published by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) regarding client management, access to water before anesthesia, fasting pediatric patients, physical examination, and more. AkthoughTruchetti and colleagues’ research has limitations, the findings showed that there are discrepancies between the standard of practice recommended by international guidelines and the level of care in veterinary practices in Quebec.



Preparing Your Pet for Surgery At Home

You may have to do some paperwork before the day of your pet’s surgery. This may include a permission form and a form that contains tests recommended by your veterinarian prior to the procedure to check your pet for any underlying health complications.

Tests often include a complete blood count (CBC) and a chemistry panel, though the tests recommended by your veterinarian may vary depending on your pet’s age, specious, medical history, and the type of surgery being performed. The paperwork should be perused before letting your pet undergo the procedure. If you have questions about the surgery, specific pre-operative tests, or post-surgery care, call your veterinary hospital. It is better to approach the day of your pet’s surgery with a clear mind rather than making inquiries about tests and options that you don’t fully understand.

The Night Before Surgery

Withhold food and snacks after 10 pm and leave a small amount of water for your pet, instructed VRCC, a veterinary specialty and emergency hospital. Bear in mind that some pets can have food withheld for a short or extended period of time, depending on your veterinarian’s instructions.

The Morning of Surgery and Surgery Monitoring

Ensure that your pet has urinated or defecated prior to admission. You can have your pet groomed since it may not have the opportunity to do so for the next two to 10 weeks. A physical examination will be performed on the day of your pet’s surgery.

Your pet will be prepared for surgery once the test results are deemed acceptable. Pets are usually administered with a sedative, helping them relax and calm down. Then, an intravenous anesthetic and a gas anesthetic with oxygen are usually given during surgery. To ensure that your pet is doing well while anesthetized, an ECG will be used to track your pet’s heart rate and rhythm and a pulse oximeter to monitor the amount of oxygen in the blood. A blood pressure monitor and a capnography could also be used to determine the amount of carbon dioxide expelled while breathing.




The anesthesia is stopped after the surgery. Your pet is allowed to wake up in a quiet area in the animal clinic or hospital where it can be monitored until it can move around safely by itself. This can take a few hours or overnight depending on the type and length of the procedure.  Most pet owners would want to take their pet home after surgery, but it is strongly recommended for your pet to stay in the hospital for monitoring. You can only take your pet home once your veterinarian says that your pet has fully recovered and it is safe for them to leave the hospital.

Pet surgery can be daunting for some owners, so it is important for veterinarians to provide as much information as they can about the procedure. Owners should also contribute to the discussion by asking questions or clarifying any information with their veterinarian.