FAQ: What to Expect When Your Pet Receives Surgery (Part 2 of 2)

Prepared by the Staff of the Larchmont Animal Clinic

In part one of this two-part primer on pet surgery, we reviewed some pre-operation precautions the veterinary staff will likely need to follow. In the following article, we answer some questions pet owners often ask about the surgery itself and about post-operation care.

Q: Will my pet feel any pain during or after surgery?

A: You can expect your pet to feel the same amount of pain any human would; however, pets generally do not present the same symptoms. During the procedure, pain medications will reduce their discomfort, but when the animal goes home pain relief will largely be up to the owner. For dogs, the veterinarian will likely prescribe an oral anti-inflammatory or a narcotic pain patch to reduce their discomfort during the days following surgery. Fewer pain medication options exist for cats, as they often do not handle standard drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen well. Injectable medications, however, work on both dogs and cats.

Q: Will my pet require stitches, and will I need to take them out?

A: At the Larchmont Animal Clinic, we apply absorbable sutures just beneath the skin for most surgeries. Dissolving on their own, these stitches do not require removal. Occasional surgeries will need skin sutures, which are usually removed 10 days to 2 weeks following surgery. Owners will need to limit their pet’s movement and activity during the first 10 days of recovery and avoid giving them baths. They will also need to watch the incision site for swelling or discharge and notify their veterinarian if either occurs.

Q: What else will I need to do before or after my pet’s surgery?

A: Plan on taking 5 or 10 minutes to fill out paperwork upon arriving for your pet’s surgery. Also, consider what other treatments or services you may want performed while your dog or cat is under anesthetics, such as dental or ear cleaning or microchipping. Make sure to arrange for these treatments ahead of time. Before taking your pet home, expect to spend about 10 minutes going over care instructions.

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