Animal hospital pet health FAQs

York Pet Surgery

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

Many people have questions about various aspects of their pet's surgery, and we hope this information will help. Get in touch to learn more about your pet’s surgery.

Is the anesthetic safe for my pet?

Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. At our hospital, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics, to ensure that a fever or other illness won't be a problem.

Pre-anesthetic blood testing is important in reducing the risk of anesthesia. Blood testing before surgery is recommended to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic. 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. We administer IV fluids to patients during most of our anesthetic procedures. This is a critical part to keep patients well hydrated throughout the procedure and provides us with an emergency access port if the need should arise.

If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected. For geriatric or ill pets, 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 to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. You will need to withhold food for at least 8 to 12 hours before surgery.

Anesthetic Safety

Pre-Surgical Bloodwork

Will my pet be in 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. We include pain management with every surgical procedure for both the comfort of the patient, and to speed the recovery process. This may involve a postoperative injection which will ensure the patient is comfortable upon waking as well as a restful night's sleep at home.

When deemed necessary by the doctor, medication for the next few days is also included. Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations. For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflammatory the day after surgery and several days after 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.

The cost of the medication will range depending on the size of your dog. 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. After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis. Any animal that appears painful will receive additional pain medication.

At no time should you give your pet human medication unless directed by a veterinarian.

Will my pet have stitches?

For some surgeries, we use absorbable sutures underneath the skin. These will dissolve on their own and do not need to be removed later. Some surgeries, especially tumor removals, do require skin stitches. 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. 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 for a time and no baths are allowed for the first 10 days after surgery.

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 ear cleaning or implanting 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.

Frequently Asked Questions at York Animal Hospital

Other FAQs

When does a puppy or kitten start its vaccines?

Both puppies and kittens begin their vaccination series at six to eight weeks of age and receive vaccinations every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. It is also very important to have your puppy or kitten’s stool checked for worms or other intestinal parasites at a young age. If you are unsure of your new pet's age, you can always ask us for advice.

How do I control fleas and ticks on my pet?

Fleas and ticks can be a real nuisance. Not only do they make your pet and you uncomfortable, they can transmit diseases to them. Lyme disease, a disease transmitted through the bite of a deer tick, is relatively common in York County so it is important to try to prevent your pet from being bitten by ticks. We have several products that will aid in the control of these parasites and our receptionists will be happy to discuss the various products with you.

How long is a dog/cat in season or heat?

A dog is in season about 21 days. The first 10 days include bleeding from the vagina, then your dog is ready to accept the male. A cat is completely different from a dog. They go in and out of season from January to June. It is always best to neuter your pet if you do not intend to breed her so that she does not develop breast or uterine cancer.

How do I remove a tick from my pet?

Do not use your fingers to remove ticks. Use tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible. Slowly and steadily pull the tick off. Occasionally the mouth parts will remain in the skin but don't worry. These will eventually be sloughed out as the skin layers grow out. You should know that ticks carry a vast array of diseases. Lyme disease is one disease that dogs can be vaccinated against. Call our hospital for more information.

How do I know what size cage is best for my dog? Crate training tips.

The right size cage is one in which your pet can lie down, turn around, and have three to four inches of extra head space when sitting or standing. While the right-sized cage may seem too confining or too small to you, it is not for your dog. The theory behind crate training is that a puppy will not urinate or defecate if they can’t get away from it. This trains your puppy to “hold it” and not go whenever they want. That said, it is important to get your puppy outside frequently and often in the same area of your yard. You should put your puppy in its crate at night and when you are away from home. Crate training can be very effective if you remember to bring your puppy outside a) right before bedtime b) immediately when you get up in the morning c) before you leave the house and d) right when you return.

What is the normal body temperature for cats and dogs?

In general, the normal body temperature for animals is higher than for humans. Normal body temperature is the same for cats and dogs. The normal rectal temperature of a cat is 100° to 102.5°F. The normal temperature of a kitten at birth is 97°F. The temperature gradually increases with age until it is 100°F at 4 weeks of age. It is important to note that you cannot detect the body temperature of your cat or dog by feeling its head or skin.

My cat is going to his litter box a lot and seems uncomfortable. What does that mean?

Cats are very prone to urinary tract infections. Signs include frequent urination and production of only small amounts of urine. Some cats will urinate outside the litter box when they have problems. In some cats crystals and possibly stones will form in the bladder. These crystals can form into a plug that can block the urethra preventing normal urine flow. THIS IS AN EMERGENCY! Any time your cat is straining to urinate could be a sign of blockage and you should call immediately! This is especially problematic in male cats. Although females will often get bladder infections, they rarely become blocked.

How old should my cat or dog be when I have her spayed?

Cats and dogs should be spayed at about 5-6 months of age BEFORE they go into heat. Spaying after even just one heat cycle increases their chance of getting mammary (breast) cancer. Dogs cannot be spayed while they are in heat but cats can have surgery even if they are in heat.