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  • Jo De Klerk

    My dog needs a lump removed. What can I expect on the day of surgery?

    Question from Julie.

    It’s always nerve-wracking when your dog needs to go into surgery, but don’t worry Julie, your dog is in the hands of professionals that do this day in day out.

    You haven’t elaborated on the type of lump or location, but assuming it is an easy to remove lump, of small to moderate size, your dog will just need to be at the vets for the day. It is best to drop him off first thing in the morning. He should have an empty stomach to ensure that he does not vomit whilst under the anaesthetic. He can, however, be allowed to drink water until you take him to the vets.

    When he arrives, a vet or vet nurse will give him a thorough check over to ensure he can have his operation. This is mainly to identify anything which may need to be considered during the procedure, such as heart murmurs, being overweight, or internal organ problems which may hinder how the drugs are filtered out of the system. If they find anything, they will discuss this in full with you prior to the procedure.

    Some vets will first run a quick blood test as well, to double check that your dog is healthy, whereas others may just run the blood test if the clinical exam was abnormal. Your dog will then be given a sedative and put on an intravenous fluid drip, to keep his blood pressure normal.

    About half an hour after the sedative injection, his anaesthesia will be induced. This is done with an injection into a vein in the leg. Once he is asleep, a tube will be placed down his windpipe which will provide him with anaesthetic gas and oxygen, as well as enable the anaesthetist to intervene and breathe for him, if for any reason he or she is not happy with his breathing.

    After the operation, the anaesthetic gas will be turned off, and he will be allowed to breathe pure oxygen for five to ten minutes, to help filter out the gas. It usually takes about ten minutes for a dog to wake up after an operation, however once awake, they then often fall back asleep to rest for several hours when put into a recovery kennel.

    Once the vet is happy that your dog has recovered enough from the anaesthetic, and had something to eat, he will allow him to go home. It is likely that your dog will be drowsy for the rest of the day, and it is best to just allow him to rest. Some bland food for dinner, such as a gastrointestinal food, or chicken and rice, is the most beneficial for him at this stage.

    Most vets require two post-operative checks; one at three days post-op and one at 10-14 days post-op. The first check is to ensure that the wound is not infected and is starting to heal nicely, and the second is to take out any stitches that there may be. Until the stitches are out, you should keep your dog as quiet as possible, as popping stitches may lead to complications and longer healing times.

    Good luck, and I hope he gets better soon.

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    Jo De Klerk

    Jo is a graduate of the Royal Veterinary College, London. She has a Masters degree in Tropical Animal Health, and has spent most of her career working in mixed veterinary practice.

    Recently, she has become involved in one of the UK’s fastest growing veterinary telemedicine services for dogs and cats.

    She is a published author of several books, and enjoys working as a freelance veterinary writer around her clinical work.

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