We have full sterile surgical facilities in a dedicated theatre with comprehensive anaesthesia monitoring for a variety of procedures such as routine neutering, soft tissue surgery, cruciate and fracture repair and other elective and non-elective operations.
We are fortunate, not only to have a spacious and modern theatre in which to perform these in but also our veterinary surgeons between them have a wealth of experience. This means that we can perform many operations in house without the need for referral. This is essential when the need for surgery is for emergency reasons.
If a referral to a more specialist centre for your pet is required, our team will discuss this in great detail with you.
We are able to provide separate dog and cat hospitals with quiet areas for the more nervous pets and those recovering from surgery or illness.
What is an anaesthetic?
An anaesthetic or anaesthesia(which comes from the Greek meaning – lack of sensation) causes unconsciousness which allows patients to undergo surgery without feeling pain or distress.
There are three stages of this process:
- Pre-med – this is a combination of pain relief and a sedative. The pre-med helps your pet feel more relaxed and reduces the amount of anaesthetic we need to use. We give this either subcutaneously (under the skin) or intramuscularly (into the muscle).
- Induction Agent – a short acting injection given directly into a vein in your pets leg. This acts quickly, with patients drifting off to sleep with a minute. A tube is then passed down the trachea and is attached to the anaesthetic machine. (The induction agent we use is exactly the same used for humans in hospitals).
- Maintaining anaesthesia – this is where a combination of oxygen and anaesthetic gas(isoflurane) is accurately measured through the anaesthetic machine to keep your pet unconscious during their procedure.
Are anaesthetics safe?
As with all anaesthetics both for humans and for pets, it is important to understand that there is always an element of risk.
However there are a number of ways to keep this risk low:
- We will give your pet a full examination on the morning of the procedure.
- We may advise you that your pet undergoes a blood test to check for any conditions that could cause complications.
- Throughout your pets surgery the nurse will monitor your pet’s oxygen saturation, carbon dioxide
levels, heart rate and respiration rate. All these tell us how well your pet is doing under anaesthetic
and adjustments can be made quickly to keep them stable throughout.
- Emergency drugs are kept at close hand if needed, however this is rare.
- If necessary we may advise you that your pet will benefit from intravenous fluids during
anaesthesia, this is particularly recommended if your pet has an infection or there is the possibility
of excess bleeding during surgery.
Can older animals have an anaesthetic?
Yes older animals can have an anaesthetic. In these cases we may suggest running a blood screen or urine sample first, to check for any abnormalities which may pose more of a risk to your pet.
Does my pet have to be starved before it can have an anaesthetic, if so why?
As with humans your pet’s stomach needs to be empty before anaesthesia.
The larynx is the part of yours and your pet’s body that prevents food and water going down your trachea (windpipe) and into your lungs, directing it instead down the oesophagus into your stomach. However when you or your pet are ‘under anaesthetic’ the larynx relaxes. The drugs used for anaesthesia can cause vomiting and if your pet vomits during anaesthesia any food could end up going down the trachea and into the lungs instead. If anything gets into the lungs that shouldn’t be there this is called ‘aspiration’. The lungs will react to aspiration and in some cases result in ‘aspiration pneumonia’, a life threatening condition that requires immediate intervention.
Why do I need to bring my pet in in the morning?
Here at Priory Veterinary Practice, unless the surgery is an emergency we tend to begin our operations after morning consultations have finished.
There are certain procedures we need to follow prior to the operation. These take time and are for your pet’s wellbeing.
Our vets will give your pet a full physical examination and discuss the procedure with you so you fully understand what we are going to do. If you are happy to go ahead with the surgery as planned, your contact information will be checked and your authorisation recorded.
Your pet will then be admitted into one of our hospitals and looked after by our nurses.
We will record his or her weight – this is very important as all animal drugs and medications are based on weight. After a weight is recorded all the drugs needed prior to, during and after the procedure will be carefully calculated.
Should your pet require a pre-anaesthetic blood test this will be taken before his or her pre-med is given. If intravenous fluids are required the catheter will be placed at this time and fluid intake will start.
Your pet will then be given their ‘pre-med’. This takes approximately 30 minutes to achieve the desired effect.
We are very happy to allow owners to sit and wait with their pet until they have had their pre-med. However owners opting for this must understand that the same pre-operation procedures will be followed and due to the nature of veterinary practice we cannot guarantee an exact start time.
Pets can become more stressed if owners are not relaxed due to anxiety of time constraints.
Will my pet be shaved?
Yes. Your pet will have a small section of his or her foreleg shaved. This is so we have a better view of the vein in which to inject the induction agent and creates a clean environment.
The areas of the body where we are operating will be shaved too. This is so we can clean the area of the procedure with surgical scrub before for we make our incision.
What do I have to do before my pet comes in for a procedure?
If your pet is coming into the practice for a general anaesthetic we ask that you starve them from 10pm the night before. This ensures that they won’t vomit during the anaesthetic.
Water can be available at all times.
Cats will need to be kept indoors to be certain that they have had no access to food overnight.
We do offer a free service to cat owners for pets to come in the night before. This means we can take care of the starvation period, particularly if it proves difficult in multi cat households.
All dog owners need to ensure their pets have been walked prior to their procedure so they can empty their bladder and bowels.
If your pet is taking medication, please to speak to the vet to find out when it is best to give it to them.
We ask that you bring your pet in between 8.30am and 9.30am on the morning of the procedure, unless other arrangements are made.
What do I need to do when my pet comes home?
Patients often go home the same day as surgery, recovery is usually very good.
When patients are discharged, our vets or nurses will go through any post-operative instructions with you.
With most procedures the vet would like to see your pet a few days afterwards. This is to check that the patient is recovering well, the wound is healing correctly and gives you the opportunity to discuss any concerns.
If your pet needs to be seen again the vet will inform you of this at this time.
Your pet will need a bland diet for a couple of days (unless specified by your vet). This is because the anaesthetic can upset his or her stomach.
Your pet will normally recover from the effects of the anaesthetic within 48 hours.
Unfortunately, your pet does not understand the seriousness of surgery or the significance of the recovery period. Most pets will naturally become very active in a short period of time after surgery and confinement and close supervision indoors is of the utmost importance!
Depending on their type of surgery cats may need to be confined for up to 10 days. Dogs must be restricted to short lead walks only for 10 days or as instructed by a member of our team.
This strict confinement and restriction of activity is necessary during the entire recuperative period. Excessive physical activity often leads to injury or serious complications. This could mean additional expense to you and most importantly added discomfort and risk for your pet.
Can my pet be sedated instead of having an anaesthetic, what is the difference?
Whilst we use some sedatives to relax a pet before anaesthesia, a stronger sedative can be used instead of a full general anaesthetic for certain procedures. i.e. x-rays, minor surgery and emergency treatment. Our vet will decide which depending on an individual pet’s needs, the procedure to be performed and after discussion with you, the owner.
The natural assumption is that sedatives are safer than general anaesthetics, but this may not necessarily be the case in some patients and sedation still carries some risk, though some sedatives are reversible with an injection which brings them round.
Anaesthetics are given to effect, meaning we can give a pet the minimum amount to keep him or her asleep, and often use them in combination with a light sedation to reduce the dose. In certain pets, particularly brachycephalic breeds and those with other breathing problems, anaesthetics are safer than sedation as it is easier control the patient’s airway and breathing.
Drugs used for both sedation and anaesthetics remain in the system, therefore careful observation and monitoring are absolutely vital for maximum safety.