Kingsbury Animal Hospital

420 North Skinker Blvd.
Saint Louis, MO 63130


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

Many people have questions about various aspects of their pet's surgery. This section explains some of the decisions you will need to make before your pet's upcoming surgery.

Is the anesthetic safe?

At Kingsbury Animal Hospital, 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. Part of this physical can be preanesthetic blood testing.  Every pet needs blood testing before surgery 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. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected. While this test is optional, it is highly encouraged. Animals that have minor dysfunctions will handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV fluids during surgery.  This is a standard protocol at Kingsbury.  We can also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet. 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 beginning at 8 pm the evening prior to your pet's procedure.  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. These will need to be removed 10-14 days after the procedure.  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.  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 you can be sure they feel it.  Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed.  Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.

For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflammatory the day of and several days after surgery 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. Injectable pain medications may also be used after surgery on both dogs and cats. 

Because cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen or Tylenol, we are limited in what we can give them.  Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control in cats than ever before.  We administer a sedative that contains  pain killing properties prior to surgery.  After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis.  Providing the appropriate level of pain relief is the humane and caring thing to do 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.  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.

The evening prior to your pet's procedure, you should begin witholding food and treats at 8 pm.  Do not withhold water!  Also, don't forget to continue witholding food the morning of surgery. 

When you bring your pet in for surgery, plan on arriving between 8 and 8:30 am to check in with the veterinary technicians.  It will take about 15 minutes to fill out paperwork and make decisions on the blood testing and other options available. 

Please make sure that you have a phone number where you can be reached during the day.

When you pick up your pet after surgery, you should plan on spending about 15 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs.

We will call you the day before surgery to confirm the preoperative instructions 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.