Thank you for recognizing the importance of spaying or neutering your pet. Hopefully this will be the only time your pet will require major surgery during his/her lifetime. The following is a detailed description of all that is involved in this surgical procedure. Because your pet is being placed under a general anesthetic in order to have parts of their reproductive tract surgically removed, it is important that you understand the many details involved to make this surgery as safe as possible for your beloved pet. We are happy to answer any questions you may have after reading this information.
What preanesthetic evaluation will my pet have prior to surgery?
This is important for a number of reasons. A physical examination is our first defense against performing surgery on an animal that may have infectious disease, a heart murmur, or be debilitated from parasites. A preanesthetic blood test can detect hidden problems that could cause serious complications when your pet is under anesthetic or in surgery. At Britannia Animal Hospital, our preanesthetic blood is done prior to the surgery. It evaluates the cells in the blood to assess for infection, anemia or dehydration. It also evaluates total protein, glucose, liver and kidney values. All of these values will help us better assess your pet’s liver, kidney and gastrointestinal health.
What safety precautions will be taken with my pet during surgery?
While most surgery is uneventful, emergencies sometimes arise. Early detection of impending problems greatly aids our ability to intervene and to correct the problem. An IV catheter is placed prior to anesthetic induction. The IV catheter is our port for providing emergency drugs if required. Having a catheter preplaced is one of the most important procedures for safety. IV fluids are administered to help maintain blood pressure, to provide internal organ support and to help keep your pet from becoming dehydrated. A breathing tube is placed (intubation) in the windpipe (trachea) of all anesthetized animals. This keeps the airway open and allows for supplemental oxygen and gas anesthetic as needed. This tube is also very important to prevent aspiration into the lungs if a pet vomits or otherwise has excess fluids/materials in their mouth. Aspiration results in serious pneumonia. A monitor which measures respiration, blood pressure and EKG allows the technician to keep track of the heart rate and rhythm, the amount of oxygen in the blood and blood pressure of your pet. Emergency drugs are pre-calculated for each patient and are close at hand in the event that they are required.
What safety precautions and comfort measures will be taken?
During anesthetic and surgery, patients lose body heat. At Britannia Animal Hospital, all patients are placed on a warm air circulating blanket and have their IV fluids warmed during surgery. We also place socks on our anesthetized pets to prevent heat loss through their feet. Maintaining body temperature ensures a more stable anesthesia and a more rapid recovery. After surgery smaller dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, rats, sugar gliders and birds are placed in an incubator for recovery. Large dogs are wrapped in a comforter and supplemented with heating disks. A technician continues to monitor the surgery patients until they are stable enough to extubate and remove the IV catheter.
How will pain be controlled for my pet?
This is very important – surgery hurts! Pain is controlled before, during and after the surgery. We also inject local anesthetic into the skin where the incision will be made. At Britannia Animal Hospital we use injectable non-steroidal anti inflammatories or opioids to control pain.
Will I receive written post-surgical care instruction for my pet?
Aftercare of surgical patients is very important for proper healing. Your pet will be discharged by one of our technicians and all the instructions will be discussed.
Cats and exotic pets are housed separately from dogs to reduce their stress levels. At Britannia Animal Hospital we have a separate surgical suite that is reserved for sterile surgical procedures only. The patient is prepared for surgery in a preparation area, not in the surgery room. This prevents hair and debris from possibly contaminating the surgery area. If the surgery area is not a single use area, infection rates are increased by increased traffic, debris, bacteria and viruses within the room. Having a sink in the same room as the surgery also increases infection rates.
Preparation of the Patient
After the examination and bloodwork, medications are given to relax the patient and start the pain management program. Next, an IV catheter is placed in the front or hind leg vein and warmed IV fluids are started. After assessing the heart rate and gum colour, an injectable, short acting general anesthetic is administered through the IV. This relaxes the patient enough to allow an endo-tracheal tube to be passed into the windpipe. This tube maintains oxygen and gas anesthetic during surgery. The patient is shaved and surgically scrubbed in the treatment area and then transferred into the surgical suite. Here the monitoring unit and the gas anesthetic machine is connected to the patient. In the surgery room, everyone is required to wear a surgical cap and mask. The surgeon scrubs their hands and arms at the dedicated surgical sink outside the surgery suite and dons a sterile surgical gown and gloves. A sterile surgical pack with instruments cleaned and sterilized in our autoclave is opened and readied for the surgeon.
The surgeon scrubs, gowns and gloves in fresh sterile gear between each patient. A fresh set of sterile instruments, blade and suture material is used for each patient.
All of our veterinarians place subcuticular skin sutures, meaning there are no sutures externally in the skin. This prevents excess licking at the surgical site.
Monitoring of the patient continues during and after the surgery. As surgery is finishing, more pain meds are administered so the patient remains comfortable as they recover.
Your pet is fed as soon as they are awake enough to eat. The fact that most of our patients eat on recovery is a testament to our pain control regime and body temperature maintenance.
Once fully recovered, the IV is removed, dogs are taken for a short walk and cats are given a litter box.
Our patients are discharged the same day. A discharge appointment is made with our technician so home care can be carefully reviewed. Our receptionist calls the morning after surgery to ensure your pet is doing well and to answer any questions you may have.