What happens when your pet goes for surgery?!

Cat in hospital

Surgical Operations at Richmond Vets: Behind the Scenes

We realise that leaving your pet with us for the day to undergo a surgical procedure can be an extremely daunting prospect. Fully understanding the process that takes place throughout the day is enormously important for your peace of mind, so here is a brief description of what you can expect when your pet is admitted for general or routine surgical procedures.

When you drop your pet off at the vets for a procedure they are immediately settled into one of our comfortable kennels. We have separate wards for dogs and cats in order to minimize stress levels as much as possible. Our dog ward consists mainly of walk-in kennels which are extremely roomy and filled with padded bedding and blankets to ensure optimal comfort. Our cat ward is well equipped to provide as comfortable a stay as possible, with litter trays, toys and cat beds provided.

After a thorough health check by the vet ensuring that they are in good physical condition, each patient is given a pre-medication injection consisting of a combination of pain relief and sedative. This helps to keep them relaxed before their procedure and aids in making the process of inducing general anaesthesia as smooth as possible. It also minimises the amount of anaesthetic drugs required to maintain general anaesthesia effectively, therefore reducing the risk of any side effects. Most of our patients quite enjoy their pre-medication and are often quite relaxed and sleepy by the time they are prepped for surgery. They are then transferred to theatre where a dose of anaesthetic agent is injected intravenously into the front leg, which is why they may have a small shaved area at the time of discharge. Once this has taken effect within a minute or two, an endo-tracheal (ET) tube is introduced into the windpipe to ensure the airway is patent and the patient is connected to the anaesthetic machine. They are supplied with oxygen and the depth of anaesthesia is maintained by varying  the concentration of a very safe anaesthetic gas called Sevofluorane. We use Sevofluorane here at Richmond Vets as it has a better safety profile than the older anaesthetic Isofluorane gas used in many other clinics, as well as allowing more sensitive control of anaesthetic depth.

Patients are continuously monitored and looked after by one of our veterinary nurses as the vet carries out the surgical procedure required, whilst also providing advice and support for any anaesthetic issues if needed. The greatest fear owners have is that something may go wrong during an anaesthetic but rest assured we are always watching and monitoring extremely closely for the most minor changes in your pets heart rate, respiration, depth of anaesthesia and nervous reflexes for example. We can rapidly lighten or deepen the depth of anaesthesia as needed by altering the concentration of gas provided via the anaesthetic machine. If in the very rare case a patient is unstable during an anaesthetic we will sometimes wake them up, or more commonly administer other drugs to stabilise the heart rate or prevent any painful stimulus from affecting the patient.

Once the procedure has been completed they are then moved back to their kennel to recover under nurse supervision. Every animal is different and recovery time can vary greatly for each individual; some wake up miraculously quickly and others take longer to adjust or fully wake after. Some pets are up and about wagging their tails and asking to come out for cuddles, which the nursing team are only too happy to provide whilst others are a little disorientated and prefer to quietly sleep off their anaesthetic in peace and quiet under a warm blanket. Once we know which category your pet fits into, we will call you to arrange a suitable time for you to pick them up and continue caring for them at home. And if you have any concerns, we hope to answer them either at the time of discharge or we are just a phone call away if you are worried before they return for their post-operative check up.