What Happens When Your Pet Needs Surgery?

November 5, 2021

Author: MVAdmin

Sometimes accidents, mischief making or congenital conditions require our pets to undergo surgery. While this can be a stressful situation to deal with as pet owners, highly skilled veterinary surgeons are trained to take care of your pet’s health – no matter what the circumstances are

So what happens when your pet needs surgery?

First things first – your pet’s diagnosis and prognosis

When you bring your pet into the veterinary clinic your vet will run a series of diagnostics to determine what is happening with your pet. This could be anything from routine scans and bloodwork, to holding your pet and examining them with their hands to determine any lumps, bumps, breaks or areas of concern.

Once a diagnosis has been reached, this is when decisions around surgery (if required) are made. Your vet will guide you with compassion and care around all treatment options for your pet, discuss their prognosis with the types of treatment, and advise you if surgery is recommended.

If surgery is required, depending on your pet’s circumstances, it may take place immediately, or once other treatments have taken place. Your vet will discuss all the important details about the surgery, including how long the procedure is expected to take, how your pet’s pain will be managed, if overnight observation is required, when you can expect to take them home, and anything you may need to do to aid their recovery at home (including medications and help with dressings).

What happens pre-surgery

Unless there’s an emergency situation happening, your pet will be home with you before their surgery. Your vet will guide you on how best to prepare them for surgery, including when to give them food and water. Your pet will need an empty stomach before surgery (to prevent digestive complications), so following your vet’s advice to the letter will be important.

If your pet has diabetes, there may be different pre-surgery requirements that your vet will help you with.

On the day of the surgery, you will be asked to bring in your pet and provide any necessary updates on their condition. Once in the veterinary practice (or hospital), your pet may have blood tests taken, and be given an IV with a sedative to help them relax and get sleepy before anaesthetic is given.


An anaesthetic appropriate to your pet’s age, health and weight will be administered by the veterinary nurse. Your pet will then go into surgery, where the vet will do everything they can to ensure your pet is able to stay safe and have a smooth recovery.

Once surgery is complete, the attending veterinary nurse will monitor your pet’s vital signs as they recover from the anaesthetic.

Post-surgery care

Your veterinary practice will contact you when it’s time to pick up your pet and take them home. When you arrive, they will give you information about how your pet handled the procedure, including any information they think you will need to be aware of for their recovery and the ongoing management of their health.

A thorough, detailed list of at-home care requirements will be given to you. Things you could expect to discuss include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Medications – dosage and frequency
  • Wound care
  • Special dietary considerations
  • Exercise or movement restrictions

Your pet will likely be fitted with an elizabethan collar to ensure they can’t lick, bite or interfere with their surgical wound and stitches. It’s important

Risks associated with surgery

Whenever an animal (or human) needs surgery, there’s always some risk carried around the procedure. The amount of risk depends on their general health and any underlying medical conditions they may have.

If you have an elderly pet, or want to check for any underlying issues prior to surgery (that may not be apparent when you look at your pet), you can talk to your vet about doing a pre-anaesthetic blood screening. This test can reveal any issues that may be happening in their major organs, or detect abnormalities in their blood cells (which are important for recovery and overall health).

At the end of the day – your pet’s health and wellbeing is paramount to you and to your vet. We all want to ensure your pet has the ability to live their best lives with you. Surgery is only recommended in cases that require it, and all veterinary practices work tirelessly to ensure the optimum safety of your pet.

As always, the team at Matraville Veterinary Practice are here to ensure your pet is taken care of with the utmost care and compassion. To book a consultation with your pet and one of our staff, give us a call and we’ll arrange a time that’s convenient for you.

Got a question?

We’re here to help you with any urgent enquiries or assistance you might need. Need a little extra help, or not sure if you should bring your pet in for a check-up? Give our team a call and we’ll happily answer your questions.