Questions About Surgery?

Many people have concerns 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.


Today’s modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past.  Here at Feather River Veterinary Hospital, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, to rule out fever or other illnesses.  The handout on anesthesia explains this in greater detail.

Pre anesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia.  Some pets require blood testing before surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic.  Even seemingly healthy animals can have serious systemic 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 dysfunction will handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV fluids during surgery.  If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem 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 or ill pets, additional blood tests or x-rays may be required before surgery as well.

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 for at least 8 to 10 hours before surgery.  Water can be left down for the pet until the morning of surgery.


For many surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin.  These will dissolve in time, and do not need to be removed later.  Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, do require skin stitches.  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 can be an occasional problem. 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 baths are not recommended for the first 10 days after surgery.

Pain Control

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 sometimes don’t whine or cry, but you can be sure they feel it.  Pain medications prescribed depend on the surgery performed.

For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflamatory the day after surgery and several days after 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.  The cost of the medication ranges from $25 to $50, depending on the size of your dog.

For cats, recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control than ever before.  We administer a pain injection 10 minutes prior to surgery.  After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis.  Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication.

Pain medications may also be used after surgery on both dogs and cats.  The doctor will provide whatever pain relief is appropriate and in either injectable or oral medication.

Other Considerations

While your pet is under anesthesia, it is an ideal time to perform other minor procedures, such as nail trims, dentistry, ear cleaning, anal gland expression or implantation of a ResQ 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.

When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need an extra 5 to 10 minutes of your time to fill out paperwork and for you to make decisions on blood tests and other options available.  When you pick up your pet after surgery we will ask for and additional 10 minutes just to go over your pet’s home care needs.

We will try to call you the night before your scheduled surgery appointment, to confirm the time you will be dropping your pet off 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.