AHBC rescue kitten Minerva wakes up after her spay.

When your pet needs surgery, even a routine neuter or spay, it can be scary. We understand it is hard to have your fur baby under anesthesia—we perform neuters, spays, and surgery on our pets here, too.

Surgery is one of our core services. At AHBC we practice the best medicine and highest standards of care. We strictly follow AAHA guidelines to ensure all anesthetic and surgical procedures are completely sterile and as safe as possible.

What Does Surgery at AHBC Entail?

A lot. Surgery is a full-day procedure—from check in, between 7 and 7:30 a.m., to discharge, in the late afternoon or early evening.

Every neuter, spay, and surgery is conducted in our sterile, state-of-the-art surgery suite under the cleanest possible conditions. AHBC pet parents demand, and deserve, the best.

This article details every step of our thorough, compassionate care. Every surgery at AHBC includes the following essential procedures.

Pre-operative lab work ensures your pet is healthy enough for anesthesia and possibly dental surgery. It is rare, but pets, even puppies and kittens, can have organ abnormalities that make anesthesia or certain medications risky. We must run a comprehensive blood work panel within 30 days prior to any surgical procedure. We can perform blood work on the same day as surgery.

If your pet’s lab work is ever concerning, we will call you immediately to discuss our recommendations.

A pre-operative physical exam on the day of surgery will check your pet’s weight, vital signs, heart and lungs, gum color, and hydration status. 

Pre-operative pain medication to control discomfort: Any incision will cause some degree of post-op discomfort. Pre-op pain medication, injected quickly and painlessly under the skin, also helps calm your pet for IV catheter placement.

Placement of an IV catheter after careful preparation: We carefully shave and scrub a small patch on your pet’s front leg, then apply numbing gel to ensure your pet’s IV catheter placement is fear-free and pain-free.

Why place an IV catheter? Many hospitals do not. We believe it is essential. An IV catheter offers us the safest, easiest access to a vein to administer the initial anesthesia drug and other medications—including life-saving medications should they become necessary.

Anesthesia always carries a certain degree of risk. That’s why we practice the best medicine.

An IV catheter also allows your pet to be on continuous IV fluids during anethesia. Administering IV fluids prevents low blood pressure and dehydration, which can result in organ failure. We warm the IV fluids with special equipment to prevent low body temperature.

The safest anesthesia protocols and drugs available: After the IV catheter is placed, we “pre-oxygenate” your pet for 3 minutes. This means we gently administer pure oxygen, via a mask, to fill your pet’s lungs to prepare him or her for anesthesia and surgery.

Then we inject, via the IV catheter, the safest initial anesthesia drug available calculated to your pet’s exact weight. At this point, your pet is “under”—and a trained vet nurse will be monitoring him or her the entire time.

After we administer the initial anesthesia drug, we “intubate” all surgery patients, which means we carefully insert a tube into the trachea (through the throat). This tube protects the airway and creates a seal that prevents water and bacteria from entering the lungs and causing infection. The trachea tube also carries both pure oxygen and gas anesthesia. Gas anesthesia is the safest form.

Constant monitoring on state-of-the-art equipment: We designate a skilled vet nurse to monitor your pet’s vital signs, blood pressure, oxygen level, and heart activity the entire time your pet is under anesthesia. We actually stand over your pet with a stethoscope! Plus we use a comprehensive monitoring machine, and record every single entry every 5 minutes.

This level of attention to monitoring is somewhat rare in the vet world. At Animal Hospital at Brier Creek, we know this is the only way to make anesthesia as safe as possible. Learn more about our anesthesia monitoring.

Whole-body warming devices: In addition to warm IV fluids, we put a warming pad under your pet and a warm water blanket—plus a plush towel—on top of your pet during the entire OATP. Low body temperature during anesthesia makes metabolism of medications difficult.

IV antibiotics: IV antibiotics prevent any present oral infection from being spread through the bloodstream to your pet’s heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys.

What Happens After Surgery?

Care continues! We follow the best post-operative protocols to ensure the safety and comfort of your pet. We call this “recovery time.”

After surgery, your pet is gently woken up from anesthesia. We remove the trachea tube only after your pet is awake and has swallowed on his or her own twice. Then we immediately begin post-operative care.

Your pet is placed on a warming pad in his or her AHBC “house” in our Dog Ward or Cat Ward and covered with soft blankets. Every 30 minutes we take your pet’s temperature, since temperature naturally drops a bit under anesthesia. We also monitor your pet’s gum color and discomfort level.

Once your pet is fully awake, we remove the IV catheter.

How Will I Know Everything’s Okay?

From our Dog Ward and Cat Ward, we can see every patient—and keep a close eye.

We sit with any pet who needs a little TLC. We administer extra pain medication if necessary. We walk any dog who signals a need to “go.” We talk to any cat who looks a little confused.

We will call you after your pet’s procedure to give you an update. We can also text you a picture of your fur baby in recovery.

When Can We Go Home?

We understand your pet cannot wait to see you, and vice versa! Thank you for letting us take care of your fur baby.

When we check in your pet for surgery in the morning, we will set up a discharge time for late afternoon or early evening. When we discharge your pet, we will go over the procedure and make sure we have explained everything to your satisfaction.

Every surgical procedure includes a free post-operative evaluation in two weeks. This is often unnecessary for routine neuters and spays. However we are happy to see your pet back in 14 days for a check-up for any reason.

The day after surgery, we call you to make sure your pet is doing well at home. Care and compassion never stop at AHBC.