First and foremost, try not to worry! Your best friend is in safe hands, and we are going to take the greatest care of them every step of the way.
Your vet will have discussed the specific procedure or surgery with you, and most likely will have asked you to ensure that your pet is not given anything to eat after 10pm the evening before the surgery.
At the time organised by your vet, please bring your pet to the centre on a lead or in a cage. If your pet is of the canine variety then please encourage him or her to relieve themselves before arrival!
Once inside, we will check over all the details, answer any questions you may have, explain the procedure to you, obtain your written consent and admit your pet. Our vets will then perform a “pre-surgery” health check that will include checking their temperature, listening to their heart and chest, a physical examination and any other specific concern that has been identified (for example, your pet may have a pre-existing condition that the vet looks into in greater detail before “clearing” them for surgery.) At this stage, if our vets have any significant concern then surgery will not proceed until both yourself and the vet have discussed the concern and you both feel that it is appropriate to continue.
The next step is the “pre-med” This is a small injection under the skin which contains both a sedative and a pre-emptive pain relief medication. No pet undergoes any surgery or procedure at the centre without medication to keep them as comfortable, relaxed and as pain free as possible.
Your pet is then popped back into the kennel with a nice cosy blanket whilst we wait for the sedative to take effect, which is usually around 20 minutes. Then we lift our patient on to the treatment bench and trim a small patch of hair off a forelimb, and insert a catheter (cannula to our human health friends!) attached to a fluid line into the vein so that they can receive intra-operative fluids (and post-operative if required.) With an injection into the fluid line, the surgical vet then induces the general anaesthesia, after which the patient is intubated (has a breathing tube gently placed in their trachea). We then place the patient onto gaseous anaesthetic and clip away any fur from the surgical site.
Next we transport the patient into one of our two sterile surgical theatres and position them carefully on the surgery table for the required procedure. Your pet has been totally unaware of any of this since the general anaesthetic was induced earlier, prior to the breathing tube insertion, and so they are not feeling any anxiety or discomfort. The surgical site (location of surgery on the body) is then carefully sterilised before the first incision is made.
The surgeon will have “scrubbed in” with special antibacterial hand wash in an identical procedure to that of human hospitals. Having used a foot switch to activate the hand scrubbing, the surgeon will apply sterile gloves and gown, and not touch anything other than the sterilised instruments and your pet until the surgery is completed and the last stitch in place. This is to maintain the ‘sterile field’.
During the procedure, your pet may receive further medications, administered by the surgical assistant or the anaesthetist, such as antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, local anaesthetic and further longer lasting pain relief. They will also receive intra-operative fluids to help in maintaining blood pressure and to protect their internal organs.
Once the last stitch is in place, the anaesthetic gas will be switched off and the patient gently moved to recovery. The anaesthetist will monitor your pet closely until they begin to wake up and their ability to swallow is evident. At this point, they will carefully remove the breathing tube and supervise your pet’s transition to a fully alert state.
We will then continue to monitor your pet for the next couple of hours to make sure that they are recovering smoothly from their procedure, as well as organising any take home medications and/or additional pain relief as required. As they arrived with empty stomaches, depending on the procedure, we will also tempt them with a meal and fresh water.
Once the vet supervising their recovery is comfortable with their progress, we will contact you to let you know when they will be ready to go home. When you arrive, we will give you a summary of how it all went and what was done, what on-going care is required along with any medications to be given at home. We will also make sure you have our contact phone number should you have any questions or concerns after you return home with your pet.
Then it will be time for our last pat and it’s over to you to take them home and give special TLC whilst they lap up the extra attention!