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  • Before Surgery Arrival most asked questions

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How do I transport my pet safely in the car?

Pets should not be free in the car, for their safety and for yours.

  • Drive steadily for your safety and for theirs – leave in good time and don’t rush. The last thing they need is bouncing around in the car, especially if they are injured or have recently had surgery.
  • Don’t sit with them on your lap … do you really want to use your pet as an air bag?!
  • Dogs can be secured with a safety belt which you can get online or from pet shops.
  • You can use a sheet as a hammock to stop them falling into a foot well, or you can fill the gap with pillows, sleeping bags, duvets etc.
  • Cats should be in pet carriers – always!! Imagine what would happen if they got scared, dived for the nearest dark space … e.g. under the pedals – and then you needed to brake …

For further information, please see our information sheet on lifting and transporting pets.

I’ve heard about the recent rise in lung worm, and that this predisposes to bleeding. Is this a big risk with regard to surgery?

No not a big one, but one that it is wise to avoid. So, in dogs, and to a lesser extent cats, it is always wise to speak to your own vet about what they recommend for lung worm prevention. Slugs and snails are implicated in the transmission of lung worm (more correctly called heart worm) and your vet may well recommend either a routine “spot-on” or oral medication. Your own vet will also be familiar with the frequency of these diseases in your particular area.

My pet is not vaccinated. Is that a problem?

Not if they are fit and well. While we fully recommend keeping up with vaccinations through your regular vet, we are a surgical practice and not a medical or a general one, so we don’t have dogs coming in with clinical diseases like parvo, leptospirosis, or cats coming in with flu etc. Our waiting room is quiet, and you are quite likely to have it to yourself around the time of your appointment. Hospitalised animals are kept apart from each other. So the risk of your pet contracting preventable disease while in our premises is vanishingly small.

Why don’t I need to hold water before surgery?

If the stomach is empty of food, any water that is ingested will go right through the stomach in a matter of minutes. So why you might ask, are people not allowed to drink in hospitals for hours and hours before surgery? That is a very good question and one to which we have never received a satisfactory answer! Keeping the patient well hydrated around the time of surgery is very important to maintain blood supply to vital organs. So, we ask that you offer your pet water right up until the time that you leave the house. But don’t worry overly if they don’t take you up on the offer of a drink, because we routinely drip our anaesthetised patients anyway.

Why does my pet need to be starved before surgery?

The reflexes in the back of the throat are suppressed by anaesthetic drugs. Vomiting and regurgitation can occur around the time of anaesthesia and sedation. If a pet has food in the stomach, then there is a risk that acidic stomach contents and food particles could be vomited up under anaesthetic and then be aspirated (“sucked into”) the airway and the lungs.

This can be extremely serious and even life threatening. So, we starve pets for a few hours before surgery to empty the stomach to minimise this risk. Typically, we starve adults from around 8pm the night before surgery. For some procedures we may even ask you to starve the pet for longer. For infants, we only starve for a few hours, often allowing food to be given up to the time of admission. This is because in these young animals we have to trade off the risk of vomiting against other risks associated with longer starvation. Prolonged starvation would be more likely to cause problems in infants like hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels) and hypothermia (low body temperature) which are both more likely if the metabolism isn’t ticking along with a nice load of fuel on board.