Surgical FAQ’s

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What you need to know before your pet’s upcoming surgery

How safe is veterinary anaesthesia?

Modern anaesthetic drugs, monitoring equipment, intravenous (IV) fluids, pre-anaesthetic blood testing, body warming equipment and qualified veterinary technicians, have made surgery much safer than in the past. Here, at Brack Animal Hospital, our veterinarians perform a thorough pre-surgical physical exam on your pet before administering anaesthetics. This maximizes the best possible outcome by allowing our veterinarians to adjust the amount and type of anaesthetic(s) used depending on the health of your pet. Our anaesthetic protocols involve continuous monitoring by a veterinary technician until recovery from anaesthesia. All of our veterinary technicians involved in the care and treatment of your pet have graduated from an Ontario accredited veterinary technician college.

Do all veterinary hospitals use similar protocols for safe anaesthesia?

The simple answer is NO!

All veterinary hospitals or clinics in Ontario have a requirement for minimum standards to be upheld. These requirements are defined by the regulatory body named the College of Veterinarians of Ontario (CVO). With respect to anaesthetic monitoring equipment, the minimum requirement is “a bag device for monitoring respiration or an electronic respiratory monitor”, “a stethoscope”, and “an oesophageal stethoscope or electrocardiograph (ECG) machine”.

Brack Animal Hospital utilizes more advanced electronic monitoring machines [respiration, heart rate, EKG, SpO2 (blood oxygenation), blood pressure] as well as continuous human monitoring by a veterinary technician. We further mandate the use of advanced medical warming devices to maintain body temperature and intravenous fluids (IV) with IV electronic pumps to aid in the maintenance of blood pressure and delivery of IV drugs in case of an emergency. We also require pre-anesthetic blood work to be completed before each surgical procedure.

Brack Animal Hospital chooses to be held to a higher standard of care and are an AAHA accredited hospital (refer to the Licensing Information under “About Us” of this website or visit AAHAnet.org). All AAHA accredited hospitals must follow more rigid requirements than CVO accreditation requirements. To see the requirements, visit CVO.org and AAHAnet.org.

How can I compare the anesthetic protocols between veterinary hospitals and/or clinics?

Comparing veterinary services is not easy because the level of training of support staff, individual veterinary expertise, as well as sophistication of equipment varies between hospitals. Sometimes comparisons equate to comparing apples to oranges.

Brack Animal Hospital has protocols in place that support and fund team members in the attendance of continuing education classes, webinars, lectures and conferences. All team members are encouraged to participate in the rotation of attendance. Additionally, Brack Animal Hospital is committed to internal training by holding routine staff, technician team, and veterinarian team meetings to continually review medical and surgical protocols, as well as stay current with new industry information, products and teachings

Ask other veterinary hospitals the following questions to ensure full knowledge of services offered and the level of care provided:

  1. Do they provide continuous monitoring by a person able to react immediately to alarm noises produced by anaesthetic monitors?
    Brack Animal Hospital does.
  2. Did the person performing the anaesthetic monitoring graduate from an accredited veterinary technician college, or just in hospital training?
    Brack Animal Hospital uses technical staff from an accredited veterinary technician college.
  3. Do they require employed veterinary technicians to attend advanced accredited continuing education conferences?
    Brack Animal Hospital does.
  4. Do they use blood pressure monitors?
    Brack Animal Hospital does.
  5. Do they mandate intravenous fluids?
    Brack Animal Hospital does.
  6. Do they mandate pre-anaesthetic bloodwork?
    Brack Animal Hospital does.
  7. Do they have dedicated equipment for the entire procedure or do they “share” IV fluids, pumps, or monitors between several patients with procedures occuring at the same time?
    Brack Animal Hospital uses only dedicated equipment.

Why do I need blood testing on a young pet?

Pre-anaesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risks of anaesthesia. Even seemingly healthy animals can have serious organ system problems that cannot be detected without blood testing. If there is an underlying problem, it is advantageous to detect it before it causes anaesthetic or surgical complications. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected. Though abnormal blood test(s) resulting in the postponement of a surgical procedure are uncommon, it is more comforting to know that the option to proceed was based on normal results.

Why are there different choices of blood tests?

As our pets age, the risk of abnormal blood results indicating disease increases significantly. Older patients typically have concurrent issues such as heart murmurs and periodontal disease. Periodontal disease may be the source for infection to the liver, kidneys, or other organs. All surgical patients have mandatory blood testing requirements. Some “breeds at risk” (e.g. doberman) should have specialized preanaesthetic testing (e.g. clotting tests for bleeding disorder – vWBD).

We offer two levels of blood testing as well as “in hospital” (same day results) and “reference lab” (next day results) blood testing prior to surgery. Both methods are accurate and reliable, however, there are situations that may require reference lab results by your veterinarian. Please speak with your veterinarian or a qualified team member regarding preferences for your individual pet’s pre-surgical requirements. While the comprehensive reference lab (next day results) screen is preferred for geriatric or sick patients, a stat in hospital comprehensive blood test may be sufficient. For some geriatric or ill pets or some “breeds at risk”, additional blood tests, urinalysis, x-rays, ultrasound or electrocardiograms may be required before surgery as well.

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Click here for an informative video on The Importance of Blood Work.

Do I need to fast my pet?

It is important that surgery be performed on your pet when he/she has an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anaesthesia. You will need to withhold food after midnight the night before surgery. Water can be left down for the pet until the morning of surgery. Though the majority of the anaesthesia involves the use of a cuffed endotracheal tube that prevents aspiration (inhalation) of food if vomiting occurs, Brack Animal Hospital prefers to be as safe as possible and generally, delay surgery if your pet has eaten.

Will my pet have stitches?

Yes. The type of sutures (stitches) used depends on the surgical procedure that is performed. Most elective surgeries (spay/neuter) will have dissolvable sutures. It is important that the surgical site is kept clean and dry and it is monitored 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. Skin sutures (non-dissolvable) are usually removed 14 days after surgery. You will also need to limit your pet’s activity level for a time and no baths/swimming are allowed until the sutures are removed/dissolved.

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 you can be sure they feel it. Pain medications will depend on the type of surgery performed. Major procedures require more pain relief than procedures like minor laceration repairs.

For dogs and cats, we will recommend an oral pain relief prescription for several days after surgery to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. An injectable pain medication is administered to your pet the day of surgery. Performing pre-anesthetic bloodwork on your pet will allow our veterinarians to safely prescribe the very best pain medication.

Providing an appropriate pain reliever is a humane and caring action to take for your pet.

What other decisions do I need to make?

While your pet is under anesthesia, it is the ideal time to perform other minor procedures such as dentistry, ear cleaning, or implanting an identification microchip. At any time prior to surgery, you may request an estimate for additional services.

When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out consent forms and meet with a technician. A member of our technician team will briefly examine your pet and discuss any concerns that you may have. When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan to spend about 10 minutes meeting with one of our technicians to go over your pet’s home care needs.

We will call you before your pet’s scheduled surgery appointment to confirm the time you will be admitting your pet, to arrange pre-anesthetic bloodwork, and to answer any questions you might have.

Most people have questions about various aspects of their pet’s upcoming surgery. Brack Animal Hospital produced this information so that you can be well-informed and feel confident abour your decisions. However, don’t hesitate to call us with further questions or concerns. We also encourage you to ask for a tour of our facility so that you may see where your pet’s surgery will take place and meet our team members.