Binder Animal Hospital

2941 Telegraph Road
Saint Louis, MO 63125


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


Many people have questions about various aspects of their pet's surgery. 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?

Today's modern anesthetics and anesthetic monitoring have made surgery much safer. Here at Binder Animal Hospital, we perform a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics to ensure that a fever or other illness won't be a problem. We also adjust the type and amount of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet and the procedure being performed.  

Preanesthetic blood testing can help reduce the risk of anesthesia. Blood testing before surgery helps ensure that there are no underlying illness and that the patient is a good anesthetic candidate. 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. Anesthetic techniques can be modified to accommodate patients with minor dysfunctions. If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.

An electrocardiogram and pulse oximetry is evaluated before and during every anesthesia. 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 12 hours before surgery. Water can be left down for the pet until the morning of surgery.   Patients are admitted at 8:15 AM on surgery days. Surgeries are performed Monday through Thursday.

Will my pet have stitches?

Many surgeries require skin sutures (stitches). If there are skin sutures, these will usually be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery.  For some surgeries, we use absorbable sutures. These will dissolve on their own, and do not need to be removed later. 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 until the stitches are removed.

What about 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 minor ones.

For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflamatory and pain reliever after surgery and for several days after to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling. When needed, we choose a combination of medications to provide pain control. We use effective medications which are well tolerated. 

Because cats metabolize some medications differently, we choose pain relievers well suited to their needs. There are medications that allow for better pain control in cats than ever before.

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 inserting 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.

When you bring your pet in for surgery, we will need 5 to 10 minutes of time to fill out paperwork and answer last minute questions. When you pick up your pet after surgery you can also plan to spend about 10 minutes to go over your pet's home care needs.

We will 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.  n the meantime, please don't hesitate to call us with any questions about your pet's health or surgery.