What will be discussed during my appointment?
While this will vary somewhat depending on your pet’s condition, several topics will be discussed during your appointment. These topics may include, but are not limited to:
- The diagnosis or the likely diagnoses and how to differentiate between them;
- Pathophysiology, or the “why” behind the condition or disease;
- Treatment options, which may include both surgical and non-surgical options;
- Post-operative care, both in-hospital and after your pet goes home;
- Prognosis, or what to expect for the future (short-term and long-term);
- Rechecks and monitoring, which may be required in the future;
- Estimated costs of the proposed diagnostics and treatment options;
- Any other questions you may have.
- Why does my dog need to be fasted for the appointment?
Your pet may need to be sedated for certain diagnostic tests (e.g. x-rays), which is most safely performed on an empty stomach. Your pet may also need blood tests which require fasted samples for the most reliable results. If your pet is diabetic please contact the hospital in advance of your appointment to confirm whether or not fasting is advised.
Will you need to repeat radiographs or other diagnostic tests already taken by my family veterinarian?
We always try to avoid repeating diagnostic tests if at all possible, but there may be reasons that we need to do so for a particular patient. For example, for some procedures we need to make specific measurements from the radiographs, which can only be made if the limb is positioned in a very particular way. In other cases the radiographs are weeks or months old, and we need to see more current images of your pet’s bones, joints or organs to more accurately assess the disease process. We may also need to repeat bloodwork that has previously been performed at your family veterinarian, if we need more current results or other specific tests. If you have questions about this, please feel free to ask.
Why do we need to do preoperative blood work on healthy pets?
Preoperative bloodwork usually consists of a CBC (or “complete blood count”) and chemistry panel. These are “screening tests”, meaning that they look for a wide variety of non-specific problems rather than any particular abnormality. These tests help us to check that your pet’s internal organs (e.g., kidneys and liver) and immune system are functioning properly. Most of the time, the preoperative blood work simply confirms that your pet is healthy. If there are abnormalities on these screening tests we may recommend additional testing. Your pet’s bloodwork results may have an impact on which medications we decide to use during their stay in hospital, or at home. Any other considerations as a result of the pre-operative blood work will be discussed with you on the day of your appointment.
Why are your recommendations different to what my family veterinarian discussed?
The specialty services at the AVC-VTH make recommendations for your pet based on the information they obtain from your family veterinarian, along with their findings from discussion with you, physical exam and further diagnostic testing. Their advice will be tailored to your pet’s specific condition and circumstances based on their expertise having completed extensive specialty training. Sometimes this may differ from what your family veterinarian anticipated. Any treatment recommendations are made in what our clinical care team believe are your pet’s best interests, and we welcome discussion around this should you have any questions.
My dog or cat hasn’t pooped since surgery. Should I be concerned?
For the first few days after most procedures, this isn’t a cause for concern. It can often take a few days for an animal to have a bowel movement after surgery. Your pet was fasted before surgery, meaning there is less “moving through” the intestines. Many of the pain medications we give our patients can slow the intestines down. As long as your pet is eating normally and not showing signs of constipation (straining to defecate and/or posturing to defecate frequently) or having accidents in the house, they will likely have a bowel movement in due time. Please feel free to call us if you have any concerns about this.
How do I know if my pet’s surgical site is infected?
Every surgical incision will show signs of inflammation as it heals after surgery. These signs can include swelling, heat, redness, and pain. Inflammation is an important part of the healing process and usually resolves quickly. If these signs persist beyond the first few days after surgery, get worse with time, or you see a discharge from the incision, it may have become infected and you should contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Should my pet have antibiotics after surgery?
Usually patients do not need antibiotics after surgery, as evidence shows that in many cases antibiotics do not prevent infection – rather, they actually encourage that any infection which may develop is resistant to antibiotics and harder to treat. We have a responsibility as veterinarians to practice responsible antibiotic stewardship and do our part in preventing the development of antibiotic resistant “super bugs”, thus antibiotics should be avoided unless they are needed.
There are a number of procedures where antibiotics are appropriate to be prescribed and where this is the case for your pet, it will be discussed with you by the clinical care team.
My pet has had a bandage, splint, or cast placed. How frequently do these need to be changed?
Usually bandages/splints/casts are changed on a weekly basis, but your discharge instructions will tell you exactly how frequently this is recommended. It is extremely important that the limb under the splint or cast is evaluated regularly for pressure sores and swelling. If these problems occur and are not addressed, they can lead to severe complications for your pet. If your pet has a bandage, splint, or cast on and you notice problems with it (foul odor, swelling or spreading of the toes, decreasing use of the limb or incessant chewing at the bandage), please seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.
How can I be sure that my pet is progressing appropriately after surgery?
Specific advice will vary depending on the individual patient and procedure performed. Generally, patients are expected to improve gradually after surgery and should be eating, drinking, and urinating normally at home. If your pet is showing signs of gastrointestinal upset (not wanting to eat, vomiting, diarrhea), pain (hiding, guarding a limb or other area of the body, lameness), or infection, please give us a call. Similarly, if your pet had been showing signs of improvement is no longer, please call us for advice.
I have additional questions after bringing my pet home. What should I do?
First, please review your discharge instructions as many routine questions are addressed there. If you still have questions, then please call or email us. We can be reached by phone at 902-566-0950 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that, while we check the email inbox regularly, it is not constantly monitored. For any urgent concerns please call us or your family veterinarian for immediate assistance.