Surgery/Sedation Instructions

We understand that scheduling your pet for a surgery or sedated procedure can be very stressful for owners and important instructions can sometimes get lost or forgotten in the whirlwind of information that we provide. While we will provide you with a hard-copy of pre- and post-op instructions for your pet at scheduling/drop-off, below you can find the general instructions for each. Please note that these are general instructions for most surgeries/sedations and are provided only as a courtesy for our patients. Please closely follow any alternate or additional instructions given specifically to you by our doctors or staff. Of course, if you have any questions at all you may call our office at (919) 639-8387. 

Before Surgery/Sedation

  • No food after 10 pm. Do not allow your pet to have anything to eat (no food, treats, or medicine) after 10 pm the night before the appointment. Your pet may be offered water, but nothing else. Depending on your situation, it might be best to confine your pet to a room or crate to ensure that they do not get into anything edible.
  • Drop your pet off between 7:30 and 8 am. Arriving on time ensures that we can begin your pet’s procedure when appropriate. If this check-in time is not feasible for you, please discuss other arrangements (such as boarding overnight prior to the appointment) ahead of time with one of our staff members. Late appointments may have to be rescheduled.
  • Checking in your pet takes time. Plan to spend 5-15 minutes going over paperwork and answering questions. A thorough check-in means that you, our staff, and our doctors are all on the same page. If someone other than yourself is going to be dropping your pet off with us, make sure that it is a person whom you trust to sign documents on your behalf and tell them which surgical options you want to have done (or pre-authorize surgical options through staff beforehand).
  • Dentals:
    • All pets are required to be on antibiotics for a minimum of three days prior to a dental cleaning. Do not give the antibiotics the morning of the dental (remember: no food after 10pm!). The day following the dental, start giving the antibiotics again after your pet eats a full meal. Always finish the entire course of antibiotics that was prescribed.
    • On the day of the dental, be sure to remain available for phone calls as our doctor will call you to discuss and authorize any needed oral surgery (such as tooth extractions or mass removals). If we cannot contact someone for authorization, your pet risks being under anesthesia longer than necessary and the doctor will not be able to perform the needed oral surgery. If the doctor does not call you regarding oral surgery, do not worry; this just means that no oral surgery is needed – no news is good news!
  • We will call you with an update. For most surgeries, a staff member will call you once your pet wakes from anesthesia to let you know how they are doing. This usually will happen around lunch-time.
  • Unless instructed otherwise, you may pick up your pet on the same day of surgery/sedation between 4 pm and 6 pm. At that time, a staff member will go over post-op instructions, explain any medications being sent home, and answer questions that you may have.

After Surgery/Sedation

  • Your pet may be groggy when you get home, experiencing a “hang-over” from the anesthesia. Your pet will typically require 24-36 hours to recover from the general anesthesia. Most animals will be back to normal when the anesthesia leaves their system entirely.
  • It is not uncommon for your pet to be more “whiney” or vocal through the night than what is normal for them. This behavior is due to the medicine they receive in the hospital that causes them to have a woozy feeling, not from pain.
  • Your pet may act constipated for 24-48 hours following surgery as a common side effect of the anesthesia.
  • Your pet may sleep much more than normal for 18-24 hours following surgery.
  • Isolate the animal from children and other pets. They may be more prone to snapping or nipping at other pets and other children due to the after-effects of the anesthesia.
  • Your pet will not be allowed to eat or drink the night following the surgery. The medicine they receive can cause nausea and we do not want them to vomit as they can potentially choke. They may have food, water, and any medicine they need the following morning.
  • If your pet receives IV fluids, they will have to urinate more frequently for 24 hours following surgery.
  • Your pet will need to be confined and their activity restricted for at least 10-14 days.
    • Cats: Provide a confined space such as a crate with a small litter pan. Your cat cannot be allowed to run or jump.
    • Dogs: Provide a confined space such as a crate, exercise pen, or small room. Your dog should be taken outside on a leash for eliminations and not allowed to run, play, or jump. Avoid stairs! If necessary, sedatives can be sent home to help ease the stress of confinement.
  • Incisions must be checked daily for swelling, gaps, discharge, and redness.
  • The incision must be kept clean and dry for at least 10-14 days. Do not bathe your pet during this time. Outdoor pets will need to be kept indoors during their healing time.
  • Licking or biting the incision could cause the wound to reopen and become infected. If you notice your pet doing this, they will need to be fitted with an Elizabethan collar.