Preparing Your Dog for Surgery

What should be on your to-do list when preparing your dog for surgery? Our Ventura vets share some tips, along with basic instructions you may receive from your vet.

How to Prepare Your Dog for Surgery

The countdown is on: you’ve got to prepare your dog for surgery. Whether he’s going in for a hip replacement, open-heart surgery or something else, you’re sifting through a lot of information.

Are there medications you need to administer pre-surgery? When should he eat last before the surgery? What about any additional testing that needs to be done?

Though you’ll receive detailed instructions from your vet, the process can still feel overwhelming if this is your pet’s first time having a particular procedure. That’s why we’re explaining the basics today - to help you think ahead and plan as successfully as possible.

The Week Before

While it may seem early to start planning an entire week before your dog’s surgery, your veterinarian may need to do additional tests before your furry friend goes in for his operation. These may include tests to check on his health, include ultrasounds, bloodwork, radiographs and other diagnostics that play a pivotal role in the success of your dog’s procedure.

It’s also a good idea to start planning for practicalities such as transportation to and from the hospital. In addition, if your dog gets bathed regularly or sees a groomer, think about scheduling this a few days before his surgery as the incision will need to be kept dry after the operation.

Also ask your veterinarian if this would be a good time to check that your dog’s vaccinations are up to date - some vets may put off administering these depending on your dog’s medical history and current condition.

The Night Before

Your dog’s night-before itinerary may vary, so discuss what should be done with your veterinarian. If these questions aren’t answered in your discharge instructions, ask your vet about them:

  • Can my dog exercise as usual the day prior to surgery?
  • When should my dog stop eating or drinking?
  • Can my dog take his medication as prescribed?

This is also a good time to prep your home for the next day, after your dog returns from his procedure. Arrange a private area for your dog to recover, perhaps away from other pets, and set his crate up with everything he’ll need.

Ensure any food and medications he may need to meet specific dietary needs are easily accessible and ready to take to the veterinarian if required. You may also consider cleaning your dog’s bedding to help reduce the risk of infection.

The Morning Of

On the morning of your dog’s surgery, the most important thing you can do is to ensure your dog does not have access to any food or water. Eating or drinking could cause aspiration during anesthesia, which is potentially life-threatening.

At Veterinary Medical and Surgical Group (VMSG) Ventura, everything we do, and every decision we make, is designed to ensure your pet’s post-operative success.

Each pet’s anesthetic plan will be customized according to his or her specific condition. With each pet, we take overall cardiovascular health and lab work into consideration. We also take extra measures to ensure your pet is pain-free during and after surgery by using a tailored multimodal approach (ex: epidural anesthesia, systemic medications and local anesthetic).

Ensure you arrive on time for your pet’s appointment so any additional blood work, catheter placement and other pre-surgery preparations can be done unrushed. Confirm that our front desk has your most current contact information so that they can reach you with any updates.

Post-Operative Care

Your vet will provide thorough instructions regarding how to care for your dog after his surgery. Your pet will likely need to take a few medications to alleviate pain and help reduce the risk of secondary infections. If there’s an incision, your vet may give him an E-collar to prevent him from licking the incision while it heals.

Though you may notice your pooch hating their time in the “cone of shame”, leaving this collar on while the incision heals will reduce the risk of reopening or infection caused by bacteria from his tongue getting into the area.

Your dog may also be put on restricted activity, which may be difficult for your dog if he’s an energetic breed. However, this is critical for proper healing. To make it easier on both of you, consider placing your dog in his crate or ask your veterinarian about sedatives. Your vet will also probably recommend not bathing your dog or wetting the incision for the first two weeks (or until the sutures come out).

Precisely following your vet’s instructions will help your dog fully recover. Be on guard for any signs of excessive pain, discomfort or unusual behavior or swelling, prevent him from licking or bothering the area surrounding the incision, and contact your veterinarian or closest emergency animal hospital if you have any concerns.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you have questions about your dog’s upcoming surgery? When it comes to your pet’s health, we’re with you every step of the way to address any questions or concerns. Contact us today.

Preparing Your Dog for Surgery | Ventura Animal Hospital

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