Like their humans, pets undergoing surgery need to be properly prepared for the process in order to make the surgery go as smoothly as possible. There are general things that owners need to do and keep in mind when getting their pet ready for surgery; however, each case and pet is different and you should follow your veterinarian’s instructions to prepare for surgery.

Pre-surgery fasting: Pet should not be fed any food or treats during the 12 hours prior to surgery, and not be given any water during the 8 hours prior to surgery. The reason for this is that anesthetic medication can cause pets to vomit, which can then cause fatal choking.

Vaccinations: It is important that your pet is up-to-date on her vaccinations. Some vaccinations are required for a hospital stay and for surgery. So, check with your veterinarian to make sure that your pet is all caught up on her vaccinations. This needs to happen at least five days before surgery so give yourself plenty of time and check with your veterinarian ten days to two weeks before surgery, so that you will have enough time to make an appointment and get your pet the vaccinations necessary to be ready for the surgical procedure.

Pre-surgery medication: If your pet is on medication when a surgery is scheduled, check with your veterinarian if the medication should be administered prior to surgery. Some medications can cause complications and your veterinarian may recommend that administration of such medications be delayed until after the surgery.

Note: If you have been informed that your pet will need to stay at the hospital after surgery, make sure that you take with you any and all medication that she needs, so that hospital staff can administer the medication as necessary during her stay.

Bathing & Grooming: Bathing and grooming your pet is also recommended as it will help reduce the amount of shedding that will happen during surgery, but will also help be clean post-surgery, since she won’t be able to have a bath or be fully groomed/brushed for at least several days after surgery.

Note: Do any bathing or grooming at least two days prior to surgery, as most commercial shampoos can and do remove the protective layer of epithelial cells which can in turn increase the chances of developing and infection.

Prepare their bed/space by cleaning it the day before surgery so that upon returning home, she can have a clean place to rest, which will reduce the chance of infection at the incision site.

Orthopedic surgery: If the surgery for your pet is for an orthopedic condition, it is recommended that the activity level be reduced.

A final note, for overeager pet owners—do not shave the surgical site prior to surgery. Leave such decisions and activities to the professionals.

By doing the above, you can help your pet be well-prepared for her surgery, and be as comfortable as possible during and after the procedure. Pay attention to and follow the instructions given by your veterinarian above all.

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