How To Prepare An Animal For Surgery

In some cases, animals, as well as people, need surgical intervention. Any surgical intervention is preceded by preparation of the animal for it. The preoperative period is extremely important for the successful operation and rehabilitation period. It consists of making a diagnosis that will be used for surgical intervention, General diagnosis and identification of possible concomitant diseases, determining the functionality of all the most important organs and systems, and, if violations of their functions are detected, additional treatment. The preoperative period also includes the choice of a specific anesthetic, anesthesia or sedative and the method of its application.

Types of operations

According to the indications and condition of the animal, there are three types of operations:

  • Planned;
  • Urgent;
  • Emergency.

All types of surgery are performed according to the indications of veterinarians and differ in the urgency of their implementation.

The cat before the operation

Planned operations

This type of surgery involves performing the operation according to the plan and does not require urgency, since the pet’s life is not in danger. The owner has the opportunity to carefully and correctly prepare the animal for the medical procedure, and the doctor has the opportunity and time to collect the necessary data, conduct the required research and analysis. The most common planned operations are the sterilization of females and castration of male, docking of ears and tails.

Urgent operations

Urgent surgical intervention in animals is also carried out according to the plan, but the preparatory period is given from one to two days, since there is a threat to the health and even life of the pet. At this time, a diagnostic examination of the animal is performed, and its condition is stabilized. Among urgent operations, the most common are operations for the removal of foreign bodies from the stomach, for intestinal obstruction, and gynecological operations for the treatment of pyometra.

Emergency operations

The main purpose of emergency surgery is to save the life of the animal. In such situations, there is no time for a full preoperative period, since a maximum of two to three hours pass from the diagnosis to the start of the operation. The most common indications for emergency operations are various acute and heavy bleeding, asphyxia, rupture of an internal organ or the threat of sepsis, complications during childbirth.

Preoperative diet

Veterinarians attach great importance to a hungry preoperative diet. Planned surgical interventions on the gastrointestinal tract require therapeutic fasting for half a day. In simpler cases, such as castration and sterilization, it is enough to withstand starvation for eight hours, it is necessary to deprive the pet of access to water three hours before the operation. In small animals weighing less than three kilograms, as well as in cubs, due to the high risk of hypoglycemia, preoperative fasting is limited to three to five hours before the operation. Before oral operations, it is advisable to check that the pet’s intestines and bladder are completely released. This is necessary in order to avoid getting excrement on the operating field.

Examination of the dog

Preoperative diagnostics

A thorough preoperative diagnosis can significantly affect the outcome of the operation. The owner of the animal must be ready to answer questions not only about the age of the pet and the conditions of its maintenance, but also provide data on the vaccination of the animal, whether it has allergic reactions, appetite, thirst, frequency of urination and defecation, and so on. The veterinarian measures the animal’s temperature, pulse rate and respiration, examines the skin and mucous membranes, palpates the abdominal cavity. The animal is prescribed a General clinical and biochemical blood test, as well as a blood clotting test.

This helps determine the health and performance of vital internal organs such as the kidneys and liver. If necessary, the animal may be prescribed additional medications to maintain these organs. In addition, additional tests may be prescribed: x-ray, electrocardiogram, ultrasound, biopsy. Mature and elderly animals (such as cats aged seven years and older, large dogs aged five years and older), as well as some breeds (Bengal Scottish, Persian, Sphinx, Doberman, boxer, bulldog, pug, Griffin, and some other breeds) have a genetic tendency to develop diseases of the cardiovascular system. Such animals must be treated of cardiac preoperative examination. Common contraindications for all types of surgery are the old age of the animal and a high degree of its exhaustion.


Based on all preoperative examinations, the animal is selected for anesthesia. During planned operations, the anesthesiologist examines the animal one day before the operation and gets acquainted with the results of the examination. The veterinarian determines in advance not only the type of anesthesia, but also the method of fixing the animal for the duration of the intervention, a set of surgical instruments, including those that may be required to eliminate possible complications. Owners of animals undergoing pre-surgery should remember that their Pets are very sensitive to the mood and condition of their owners.

It is necessary to try to remain completely calm, not to panic, so as not to cause stress in the animal.
In this case, the preparation of the animal for the planned operation will be as complete as possible. In the case of an emergency operation, veterinarians-surgeons have to act as soon as possible, based on data received from the owner of the animal.

Cat after surgery

The postoperative period

Complete rehabilitation and recovery of the animal, even after a successful operation, largely depends on the postoperative period. After the end of the operation, the animal must be left in the hospital until it fully wakes up from anesthesia. After a doctor’s examination, if there are no complications, the pet can be taken home. The first five days after surgery are called the early recovery period. At this time, the animal needs special care. The owner must carefully follow all the instructions and prescriptions of the veterinarian.

The two-week period after surgery is called the late period. Here the animal is assigned a special diet and a gentle walking regime. Postoperative suture care is particularly difficult, as many animals try to lick the sutures. In this case, use a special blanket or collar.

This is followed by a remote period that lasts until the animal is fully restored. The duration of the remote period is affected by the complexity of the operation, the individual characteristics of the animal’s body, its susceptibility to the medications used. These factors also determine the nature of the remote postoperative period.
Postoperative rehabilitation of an animal carried out in a hospital implies round-the-clock monitoring of the animal’s condition, makes it possible to timely correct medical prescriptions if necessary, and prevents the occurrence of postoperative complications.