VetBus Inc.

Encinitas, CA 92024


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


Many people have questions about various aspects of their pet's surgery,so we hope this information will help.  It also explains the decisions you will need to make before your pet's upcoming surgery.

Is the anesthetic safe?

Yes. Today's modern anesthetic monitors and our drug protocols have made surgery and anesthesia much safer than in the past.  At the VetBus we perform a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, to ensure that he or she is a good candidate for surgery.  We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health and age of your pet. 

 Pre-anesthetic blood work is strongly recommended to minimize the risk of anesthesia.  Performing blood work before surgery determines if the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic.  Even apparently healthy animals on the outside can have serious organ system problems that cannot always 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.
To obtain blood work for surgery, we will arrange to draw blood from your pet a few days beforehand or have you go to your regular veterinarian for blood work a few days before the scheduled surgery.  For geriatric pets or those who are sick, additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays may be required before surgery as well.

It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach for adult animals to reduce the risk of vomiting and aspiration pneumonia 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.  We tailor the fasting period for very young animals and can advise you on their food withholding needs on an individual basis to minimize any possible hypoglycemia.

Will my pet have stitches?

Probably no external sutures.  For many surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin.  These sutures will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later.  Some surgeries require stitches externally on the skin.  With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling, redness, or discharge.  Because even normal incisions can become itchy or slightly uncomfortable, we strongly recommend an E-collar (Elizabethan collar, which is like a cone or lamp shade) to prevent licking and chewing at the incision site. 

Failure to prevent your pet from licking at the incision site can result in an unintentional opening of the wound (dehiscence), infection, exposure of muscle, bones, and even intestines to the environment, and pain and discomfort to your pet.  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 during that time and no baths are allowed for the first 10 days after surgery.

Will my pet be in pain?

Our goal on the VetBus is to minimize any pain at all before, during and after surgery, so we aim for no 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.  The type of pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed.  Major procedures require more pain relief than superficial wounds or minor lacerations, for example.

For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflamatory for 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.  Post-operative pain meds are NOT optional, but rather mandatory!!!  They are included in the cost of the procedure because they are a necessary component of healing and patient comfort.

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 pain injection prior to surgery.  After surgery, pain medication is given on an individual basis, depending on the procedure and the timing.  Pain meds will also be sent home post-operatively.  Providing whatever pain relief is appropriate is a 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, toenail trim, or anal gland expression.  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 to 10 to 15 minutes to fill out paperwork and make decisions on the procedure(s) that your pet will undergo.  When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan to spend about 10-15minutes to go over your pet's home care needs, including medications.
If you have any other questions about scheduling your companion animal's procedure, please call us! (760)230-6040