Is Your Dog Fasting Before Surgery – Things to Know Before Your Dog Goes ‘Under’

Is your dog fasting before surgery? What else do you need to know to prepare your dog before a surgical procedure?

Whether your dog needs to have a lump removed or is undergoing an elective surgery such as a spay, as a loving and caring dog owner, you may be slightly nervous about it. This is quite normal and the veterinary staff should be very used to this. It is important to let your veterinarian or the veterinary clinic staff know of any concerns you may have so they can answer all your questions.

Here are a few things you need to know before you get there.

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dog surgery

Your Dog Fasting Before Surgery

Here’s everything you need to do before the surgery.

The Day Prior to Your Dog’s Surgery

Very likely the veterinary staff will call the day before just to confirm the appointment. They should remind you about the ‘NPO’ policy. ‘NPO’ stands for ‘Nil Per Os’ which is the medical term for ‘nothing by mouth’ or fasting.

The evening before surgery up until the morning your dog is dropped off and admitted, they must not be fed. Each clinic has generally different protocols, some may say to not feed after 6 pm the night prior, while others will say no food after midnight. Many will claim that water is fine, but others say not to give water in the four or eight hours prior to surgery.

It is important to follow your vet’s instructions carefully, and do not forget that nothing by mouth includes treats as well.

As easy as this rule may sound, it is not really uncommon for veterinarians to find food in their patient’s stomachs. It could be that owners have forgotten about their dog’s bad habit to raid the trash can at night or it could be that they have forgotten to tell other family members about this requirement.

It cannot be stressed enough the importance of your dog fasting before surgery. It is in your dog’s best interest. The goal is to prevent the inhalation of stomach contents in the lungs, in case the anesthesia causes the dog to vomit. This translates into potential suffocation.

Should you catch your dog eating or being fed by a family member be honest and reschedule the surgery. The staff will understand as this is not uncommon.

The Morning of Your Dog’s Surgery

Usually, you will be asked to come into the clinic in the early hours before veterinarians start appointments. This is to allow an easy flow of patients without overfilling the surgery. It also allows you some time to sign the admission papers and ask any further questions you may have. Always make sure to provide a phone number where they may contact you in case of need.

Often you may not meet with the veterinarian during the admission because he is checking on other pets, making phone calls or preparing tests and procedures. Veterinarian technicians often can answer most of your questions since they assist vets side by side during surgery.

If they cannot answer your questions, they will likely check with the vet or, if he is busy, they may have him give you a call before surgery.

In most cases, surgery does not take place in the morning but rather in the afternoon, after the vet has finished all the morning appointments.

Admitting Your Dog For Surgery

After the paperwork, very likely you will be told to remove leash and collar for your dog’s safety. A temporary ‘admission’ collar will be placed around your dog’s neck with your dog’s name written on it, the procedure, the vet’s name, and the date.

For your pup’s sake, it is best not to make a big fuss in saying goodbye. A simple pat on the head and a ‘good boy’, should suffice. Dogs are already good at detecting your anxiety, so it is best not to add any more anxiety on top of it.

Just remember how sophisticated modern veterinary care has become nowadays, with most clinics equipped with heart monitors, modern anesthetics, and state of the art equipment.

Very likely at this point your dog will be sent to undergo pre-anesthetic blood-work, if you elected to do this (highly recommended), and will then be placed into a quiet room until surgery time.

After Surgery

Once the surgery is over, you will be called to pick your dog up. Do not get concerned if this call comes a bit late. Most vets do not send dogs home until fully awake and able to stand up on their own.

Do not forget to bring your dog’s leash and collar, and once there, get ready for a series of post-surgery instructions.

Prepare Your Dog for a Successful Surgery!

If your dog needs surgery remember to ask any questions you have before the procedure and don’t forget to carefully follow the vet’s instructions on your dog fasting before surgery. This will ensure a smooth and relaxed experience for your pup and for you and the family.

For more on keeping your dog healthy and happy see our other articles:

How to Choose a Vet for My Dog (The Right Questions to Ask)

What to Expect with an Aging Dog

What Kind of Bones are Safe for Dogs? The Best Bones for Your Pup