Behind the scenes at the vet
DURING their life most pets have to undergo some sort of surgery at the vets. For young animals this can be when they are desexed and at other times surgery can be required for many other possible reasons such as tumour removal, dental work, exploratory surgery, orthopaedic procedures - the list of possibilities is extensive. When an animal undergoes surgery it needs to be fasted usually overnight so that there is no risk of vomiting when they are under the anaesthetic or waking up, otherwise they could choke. Small pets such as guinea pigs and rabbits have different requirements for fasting but the clinic will give specific instructions which should be followed. With day procedures the animal is admitted in the morning and undergoes a health check by the Vet or Vet Nurse. At this stage a sedative is usually administered this may contain pain relief and it relaxes the patient before surgery. Often before surgery blood tests may be performed to ensure the pet has no major underlying health problems that can’t be detected on a routine physical exam. If a full anaesthetic is required this is usually given through an intravenous catheter which can also be used to administer fluids to the animal during the surgery. Once the animal is asleep a breathing tube is placed into their airway and gaseous inhalation anaesthesia is commenced. During this time the animal is constantly monitored by a vet nurse and specialised monitoring equipment to ensure its heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen levels are maintained, at this stage every effort is made to keep the animal warm as anaesthetised animals can quickly get cold. After the surgery is complete the animal is still monitored closely, kept warm and given pain relief, the animal usually stays in hospital until it is fully awake and assessed to be able to move around comfortably, the surgery site is checked to if the animal may need an Elizabethan collar or bandages to stop it licking or chewing the surgery site. We take the pet for a walk and try to get them to eat before they go home.