Preparing Your Pet for Surgery – Before and Aftercare

We understand the concern you feel when one of your pets has to undergo an operation. This information will help you to prepare your pet and yourself for surgery.


  1. Since the stress of an operation can lower your pet’s resistance to infectious disease, check that their vaccinations are up-to-date before surgery.
  2. Cats, Dogs and Ferrets need to be fasted from 8pm the evening before the operation, however water can be made available until 7am in the morning. Your pet needs to have an empty stomach so that there is a reduced risk of vomiting while under anaesthesia.
  3. Keep your cat in overnight before the operation, so that you can ensure that they don’t have access to any food – either by hunting or being fed by a neighbour.
  4. Small pets e.g. hamsters, rabbits, rats, mice and guinea pigs must NOT be deprived of water or fasted before anaesthesia. Their metabolism is different from cats and dogs and they require a constant source of food. They are also unlikely to vomit under an anaesthetic.

Operation Day

  1. Allow sufficient time in the morning to ensure that you arrive in good time for your admission appointment; trying to get a hungry cat into a carrier may take longer than you think!
  2. Dogs should be taken for a short walk for toileting purposes prior to admission.
  3. Ensure dogs are wearing safe and secure collars and leads.
  4. Cats and small animals should be brought in safe and secure carriers.
  5. At your admission appointment you will be asked to sign a consent form for the anaesthetic and procedure to be carried out. It is important you check all the details are correct; especially the contact number where you will be contactable for the whole time your pet is with us.

The Procedure

  1. When your pet has been admitted, the nursing staff prepare and administer a pre-medication. This helps your pet settle down and aids induction and recovery from anaesthetic.
  2. The operation is carried out by our vets, under sterile conditions in the operating theatres. Our nurses constantly monitor your pet’s vital signs throughout the procedure.
  3. Patient recovery occurs in a comfortable and warm kennel area, where your pet is kept under careful observation.
  4. If we haven’t already made a discharge appointment, you will be asked to call us at around 2 pm, so that we can discuss progress and arrange a time for your pet to be collected. Under normal circumstances we usually discharge pets between 4pm – 6pm.

Back at home


Your pet may still appear a little drowsy on collection, due to the anaesthetic.  This drowsiness may persist for up to 24 hours.

  1. Keep your pet warm and quiet, but not in a ‘stuffy’ atmosphere.
  2. Offer a light meal; e.g. our recovery diet or white meat and rice. Don’t worry if your pet is not hungry; this is quite normal following a general anaesthetic. It is imperative however, that small pets i.e. rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice and hamsters etc. eat within 24hrs and we should be contacted immediately if they do not.
  3. Ensure water is freely available.
  4. CATS should be kept indoors for at least 24 hours, even if they normally go out.
  5. DOGS can be taken for a short walk on the lead for toileting purposes.

Your pet may have a small area of hair clipped from either or both front legs; this is done to facilitate intravenous injections.



  1. Keep a close eye on any wound; if there is excessive redness, soreness, swelling or discharge, contact the surgery.
  2. Most animals try to lick their wounds but they should eventually get used to having stitches. If your pet does try to remove their stitches we may dispense an Elizabethan collar or a Pet Shirt to prevent them getting at the wound.
  3. Any stitches, if they are not dissolving, will need removal in 10-14 days
  4. Any bandage must be kept dry and clean. If it becomes wet, dirty or very smelly, contact the surgery. Dogs should have the bandage covered when they go out; use a polythene bag with an old sock to hold it in place.  This should not be left in place when the dog is indoors.
  5. Make sure that your pet receives any treatment according to the veterinary surgeon’s instructions, checking the dosage carefully on the medication label. Many owners find it helpful to draw up a chart and tick off each dose when it is given so that nothing is forgotten.

Don’t worry if your pet takes a few days to return totally to normal; this is quite common, especially in older animals.  A tube is put down your pet’s throat during the anaesthetic to help it breathe and occasionally this irritates the windpipe and may cause it to cough for a few days. This will gradually stop.

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