Important information regarding your pet’s procedure
Thank you for choosing The Vet Lounge for your pet’s surgical procedure. We know how important it is to you that your pet receives the highest standard of care, and we work very hard to ensure we deliver just that.
You will find the following information below:
- Pre-operative details
- Admission procedures
- Anaesthetic safety
- Discharge guidelines
- Home care instructions
- Information on complications
- Fee details
1. Pre-Operative Information (before the day)
Food and water
- It is important that our exotic patients have access to food and water, right up until their admission into hospital. This is because their metabolism is much faster than dogs and cats, and exotic pets require an almost constant supply of food to remain healthy and assist with the prevention of gastrointestinal stasis, which is where the stomach and intestines stop moving food through at their normal rate. This causes an imbalance in the bacterial populations that are essential for the health of your pet. This can also lead to dehydration and is very painful if left untreated, and in severe cases this is life-threating.
- During a surgical procedure, everything slows down, including the stomach and intestines. It is important that you bring along some of your pet’s favourite snacks so that we can get them eating as soon as they enter recovery, to encourage their gut to start moving again.
- If your pet drinks from a water dispenser please also bring this along as it will encourage them to drink after their procedure.
- If you are concerned about your pet vomiting, the risk is greatly reduced in the majority of our exotic patients. This is because their anatomy is different to dogs and cats, preventing rodents (rats, mice and guinea-pigs) from vomiting and reducing the risk of breathing in a foreign object (for example, sucking food into the airway) considerably. While we can never guarantee the risk of aspiration in surgery, the risk of gastrointestinal stasis outweighs the risk of aspiration in our exotic patients.
- Bathing is uncommon in our exotic pets, however, if you pet is having a surgical procedure they will not be able to swim or be bathed or a period of around 10-14 days after their procedure. While not compulsory, you may choose to bath your pet a day or two before the procedure. For guinea pigs that have wet fur from urine this may be of benefit. However, please ensure your pet does not come in wet as it can increase the risk of hypothermia during surgery.
- If you have been allocated a surgical admission time, we ask that you arrive promptly to your appointment. Delays in patient admissions delay our surgery start times, which result in pets going home later than expected. Admission will take approximately 10 minutes.
- You will receive a phone call from one of our nurses 1-2 days prior to the procedure to confirm the booking and answer any further questions you may have.
- If your pet has had any gastrointestinal upsets (vomiting/diarrhoea), please notify us prior to arrival. If your pet is unwell, we may need to postpone the procedure.
- Please ensure you are contactable during the day as we may need to contact you.
3. Anaesthetic Safety
Anaesthesia is a lot safer now than it used to be, but all anaesthetics still carry a small amount of risk. For our exotic patients unfortunately the risk of complications is higher than in dogs and cats. There are many anatomical and physiological reasons for this including, a high metabolic rate, different methods of processing medication, an increased risk of hypothermia, increased cardiovascular risks, and because we see a lot of sick pets for non-routine surgeries. All of these factors influence the anaesthesia and recovery of exotic pets.
It is for this reason that our team take all of the necessary precautions to ensure that your pet is safe and can handle the anaesthetics. Patient history and a physical exam provide us with a large amount of information, but there is information that is impossible to know without blood tests. This includes information that detects disease which cannot be seen by physical examination.
If you would like your pet to have pre-surgical bloodwork you will need to make an appointment several days in advance so that we have time to collect, process and receive the bloodwork results prior to their surgery. Please ensure that you discuss this with your veterinarian if you would like to have bloodwork performed.
What does the test do?
- Pre-anaesthetic blood testing checks kidney and liver function, which are important for the elimination of anaesthetics and other drugs from the body. It also checks for anaemia, or evidence of infection.
Here’s how we use the blood test results:
- The results of the blood test will be kept on your pet’s file as a baseline should they become unwell in the future. We can compare the results and see what has changed.
- If the results of the pre-anaesthetic blood tests are normal, we can continue with confidence and know that anaesthetic risk has been minimised even further.
- If the results are not within the normal range, the anaesthetic protocol can be modified to provide extra patient support, during and after anaesthesia.
- If the results are considerably abnormal, the procedure can be postponed, and treatment or further testing can be performed.
Minimising the potential risks involved with anaesthesia provides everyone with peace of mind and safer anaesthetics for your pets. The blood test is performed several days befre the procedure and only requires a small amount of blood to be taken. It’ll be over in less than 1 minute for your pet.
4. Discharge (pick up)
Pick up time
- A discharge time will be organised during admission. Discharge times are usually between 4.00-5.40pm. Please allow 10-15 minutes for your pet to be discharged. We understand that there are sometimes delays getting out of work, stuck in the afternoon traffic etc. If you will be late for your appointment, please call us as we may need to re-schedule for a later time.
Removal of feathers or fur
- When you collect your pet, you’ll notice they’re missing some fur (or feathers).
- Hair will be clipped from the surgical site and your pets skin cleaned. How much hair we clip depends on the procedure being performed. We’ll take as little as possible but as the purpose is to maintain sterility, our number one priority is their safety. The hair will grow back. It is our policy not to pluck feathers where possible, however, on occasion, several feathers may need to be removed to allow access to the underlying injury, muscles or blood vessels. We will only remove the minimum amount of feathers to allow us to perform our job. The feathers will grow back.
- If your pet licks or chews at their sutures they can cause a great deal of irritation and infection and remove the sutures altogether which will result in further surgery to re-suture the site. This will be at your expense. Sometimes, rats that are known to chew at their surgical sites will be fitted with a vest to prevent them chewing at their sutures.
- Guinea Pigs: You can feed your pet when you get home. It is essential that guinea pigs start eating at home right away so offering plenty of good quality hay is essential for their recovery.
- For all other species: Offer a small amount first. If after an hour they seem hungry and there has been no regurgitation, you can offer more.
- Please offer water also, but your pet will have received IV fluids during their stay so don’t be worried if they don’t appear thirsty.
- If your pet had a dental procedure, refer to your personal take home instructions for what to feed and when.
5. Home Care
When you get your pet home
- Offer your pet a place to sleep inside (if possible), to ensure they are kept warm. Keep other pets and small children away from them so they can continue to rest and recover. They’ll be back on their feet the next morning.
- Let your pet rest for at least 3-4 days following a surgical procedure to give the wound the best chance to heal. You may exercise your pet after that period of time but only gentle short periods of exercise. Remove any wheels your mice and rats may run in. If your pet’s surgical area was in a high risk area for sutures to ‘pop’ or the wound to open, do not exercise them at all until at least 14 days (longer if we recommend).
- If your pet is active at home and opens their wound, you’ll have to cover the cost to re-suture the site. This will be done at a discounted rate as a goodwill gesture, but we’d really prefer not to do this at all. Please keep them quiet at home.
Post operative checks
- We will call you a day or two after the procedure to make sure your pet is recovering well at home and address any concerns you may have.
- We need to see your pet again on day 3 after the procedure and again at day 10. Providing no further treatment is required and they don’t need additional medications like antibiotics, these 2 visits are at no extra cost to you.
The surgical site
- Leave it alone! Do not bathe it, do not let your pet lick at it, do not put additional covers on it, and do not put salt water on it. It is a sterile surgical site and does not need cleaning.
- Contact us immediately if you notice any of the following:
- Continuous dripping or seepage of blood or other fluids from the incision.
- Intermittent blood seepage that continues for more than 24 hours.
- Any swellings, excessive redness of the skin, unpleasant smells, or discharge.
- If your guinea pig is not eating after surgery, or has reduced passage of faeces
- If you have any concerns, please contact us immediately. We’d rather say ‘nothing to worry about’ than ‘wish you had called us earlier.’
Some complications can’t be anticipated
While we do absolutely everything possible to make sure everything goes smoothly, sometimes complications arise from just plain bad luck. The most common post-surgical complications are;
- Adverse suture reactions beneath the skin that lead to rejected suture material exiting an incision site after a surgery.
- Post-operative pain relief medications that cause your pet gastrointestinal upset.
- Post-operative antibiotics that may cause diarrhoea.
- A cough that lingers for upwards of a week as the result of irritation from the endotracheal tube we used to administer the gaseous anaesthetic. Essential to keep them alive during surgery, but sometimes it causes irritation. The discomfort will pass.
- Stiffness or lameness from having to stay in one position for an extended period of time during surgery.
The average time for sutures to be left in is 10-14 days. Complications can sometimes occur where the wound opens back up after the sutures are removed. This can happen, despite us doing everything perfect, and you doing everything perfect at home. It is for this reason that it’s important to continue to keep them quiet for another 3-4 days after the sutures are removed. Thankfully, this complication doesn’t occur often, but it is an unforeseen complication of surgery. If this happens, we will re-suture your pet at cost price as a gesture of good will.
- If you have Pet Insurance and would like to submit a Gap Claim, please notify us on admission.
- If you would like to use Zip, VetPay or AfterPay, please notify us on admission so paperwork can be started.
- All fees are payable on Discharge, when you pick up your pet.
- Patients need to return for a check-up at 3 days and 10 days after surgery, to ensure they are recovering well, and the surgical site is healing & clean. There is no additional charge for these visits unless the patient requires additional care, or antibiotics etc.
- Please allow for unexpected issues & therefore fees e.g. some pets are a bit naughty and despite all of our efforts, chew out their IV catheters. An additional catheter charge may be charged to put in a new one. They are only small charges but best to be prepared. Have a word to your pet before they come in and ask them to be good!
We are always here to answer any of your questions. If you need anything clarified, please give us a call.
Thanks for choosing us to care for your pet. We take this trust seriously, and when your pet is with us, they are the highest priority.