Preparing for Surgery: A Pet Owner’s Guide

Sometimes pets need a surgical procedure. It’s no one’s favorite part of owning a pet, but being prepared about what to expect can lessen a lot of your anxieties when you get the news from your specialty veterinarian in Philadelphia.

Pet surgeries can be worrisome, whether your pet needs something routine like a tooth extraction or something serious like a malignant skin mass removal. You’ll want to prepare your pet as best you can, and in this regard, the best advice to follow is whatever your Philadelphia area veterinary surgeon tells you to do. Heeding your vet’s directions is of paramount importance. Even if you have a friend whose pet went through the same procedure, if he or she tells you to do something different, clear it with your vet first.

Most of the instructions your vet will give you will be common sense. They may ask you to reduce liquid intake or food intake. They may need you to give your pet a special medication or ask you to give your dog a bath or trim their nails. You may even be asked to reduce your pet’s activity level, whether by going on shorter walks or eliminating family roughhousing for a few days.

Your dog or cat isn’t the only member of your family who will need to be prepped for your pet’s surgery, however. Your family will also need some preparation, especially if you have small children. Make sure you talk to them in general terms about what your pet will be going through, and start a dialogue about it. Ask them if they have any questions, and relay an age-appropriate amount of information about the procedure. Your children may have a lot of feelings, worries, fears about a pet surgery, especially if there’s been a (human) family member who has been through something similar.

It’s also good to talk to your child about the importance of aftercare for your pet once they get out of surgery and come home. If your pet has been under anesthesia, they may be woozy when they come home, for example; if they’re wearing a cone or a bandage, make sure your kids know not to mess with it. And make sure that playtime is monitored—children may not realize how slowly bodies heal and may want things to get “back to normal” immediately, which is often not possible.

Speaking of aftercare, sticking to your vet’s aftercare routine is just as if not more important than following their preparatory instructions. Often, vets will provide you with aftercare instructions on a sheet of paper. Make sure to go over it with your vet so that the instructions are crystal clear to you, and call if you have any questions. Your pet’s recovery is often in your hands, so ensure that you understand what your pet’s needs will be post-surgery, and make sure your whole family understands, too.

VRC is a specialty veterinary healthcare hospital in the Philadelphia area. We have advanced surgical facilities and are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.