Raleigh-Durham Veterinary Hospital

110 Robbins Road
Durham, NC 27703-3637



What You Need to Know Before Your Pet's Upcoming Surgery

Surgical ProcedureAt Raleigh-Durham Veterinary Hospital, we offer surgical appointments Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  Our clinic requires that all pets having elective surgery be current on all their vaccinations.  If you have never visited our clinic before please provide any medical records you have for your pet showing vaccination history.  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.  At Raleigh-Durham Veterinary Hospital, we perform a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, to ensure that a fever or other illness won't be a problem.  We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the requirement of your pet. 

Pre-anesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia.  We recommend that every pet has blood testing before surgery and this is a requirement for all dogs over six and cats over ten years of age.  This testing is to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic.  Even apparently healthy animals can have serious organ system problems that cannot be detected without blood testing.  If there is a problem, it is much better to find it before it causes anesthetic or surgical complications.  Animals that have minor problems will handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV fluids during surgery.  If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the issue is corrected.

We offer two levels of in-house blood testing before surgery, which we will go over with you when you bring your pet in.  Our doctors prefer the more comprehensive screen, because it gives them the most information to ensure the safety of your pet.  For geriatric pets, additional blood tests or x-rays may be required before surgery in addition to IV fluids to aid recovery.

It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia.  You will need to withhold food and water for at least 8 to 10 hours before 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 sutures.  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?

Using the latest pain management techniques we are able to minimize discomfort after surgery, however, 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, so careful monitoring is important during recovery.  The pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed, major procedures require more pain relief than procedures like minor lacerations.  After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis.  Any patient that appears in pain will receive additional pain medication.

What other decisions do I need to make prior to Surgery?

While your pet is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other procedures, such as dentistry, 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.

What is the procedure for bringing my pet in for surgery?

We will call you the night before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm your pet's surgery and to answer any questions you might have.  Please plan to bring your pet in for surgery between 7-8 am on the morning of your appointment, we will need to 10 to 15 minutes of time to fill out paperwork and make decisions on the blood testing and other options available.  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.

In the meantime, please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.