Pre-surgical options available for your pet

Sept. 29, 2010 at 4:29 a.m.

By John Beck

I have my dog scheduled to be spayed in a couple of weeks. The veterinarian offers pre-surgical options and I'm not sure what I really need. Can you help me decide what is right for my dog?

A lot of bigger cities with multiple-doctor practices have made pre-surgical workups mandatory, though here in the Victoria area, we still have a lot of veterinarians offering these same services, but on a voluntary basis. Most veterinarians ask for a surgical release form to be signed at the time you drop your pet off for their procedure. This release form might have options like blood work, pain management, vaccinations, etc. that your pet can have performed before or during the time they are anesthetized.

You are probably wondering why a blood profile would be suggested for a healthy pet that is being dropped off for a routine surgery, like a spay. This work up will give us a peek at how the internal organs are functioning. If all the values come back within normal limits, then there will be a good baseline on file for your animal. If or when your animal gets sick in the future, and additional blood work is run, there is a great comparison of how your pet's normal internal organ function is to a sick pets functioning. A blood profile can also offer incidental findings.

A lot of pets begin having problems with their liver or kidneys without showing any outward signs. Both are progressive and can be asymptomatic, sometimes for months. A blood profile will reveal these problems, so your vet can begin treating them before they become an emergency situation. Blood clot times are also usually examined. This confirms that your pet's blood will clot when the surgery is performed and you won't have a bleeding emergency.

Pain medication is often another option seen. I highly suggest a post operative pain management injection. There are a few medications that your pet can be given approximately 20 minutes before surgery that will provide pain and inflammation relief for 24 to 48 hours after surgery. If your pet is having a very invasive or orthopedic surgery, addition oral pain medication might be sent home with him/her. The old way of thinking, that animals do not experience pain, has been thrown out the window. Many, many doctors, colleges, research facilities have proved that they do experience pain. They might not exhibit it the way a human would or does, but we do know that they do experience pain.

Other options like vaccinations, nail trimming, ear cleaning, etc. are some things that your pet might not like having done while in on a normal visit. Some dogs or cats have problems holding still or become combative when having these procedures done, so your vet offers to do them while they are asleep. Providing your pet a stress free way to have routine procedures performed.

It is up to you, your budget and your pet what you feel is worthwhile. If you are not sure what is best, talk with your veterinarian or a technician to help with the decisions.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at



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