Lemmy arrives early in the morning, just after the office has opened.
He is in a typically good mood but is starving. This is because he’s been fasting since the previous night.
Fasting before sedation or anesthesia is essential for safety, as the gag reflex is absent in a deeply sedated animal. If the stomach has any food or liquid in it and it is regurgitated, the slurry may slip down the trachea into the lungs. This is called aspiration and can be followed by life-threatening pneumonia.
To avoid the risk, pets shouldn’t eat anything the night before a surgical procedure or other sedation when possible.
Before we start, I examine Lemmy. He is his same healthy self. He shakes hands with both paws as he sits on his haunches, sandwiching my hand with his fuzzy feet. Part of me wishes his personality traits could be passed on, but pet overpopulation leads to millions of deaths by euthanasia each year. Neutering is the responsible option.
His blood work shows no abnormalities. His liver, kidneys and blood sugar regulation are working as well as you’d guess for a boy his age. The EKG shows no irregularities in cardiac function, which is important. Some animals (including humans) can look completely healthy but have a lurking heart issue that only comes to light under anesthesia. Lemmy appears to be free of this problem.
A combination of medications is given prior to the surgery to help control salivation and pain. I am going to cut him with a surgical blade, after all. These medications also help reduce the amount of anesthesia necessary to get Lemmy to the point of full unconsciousness. He goes under gently, and we prepare him for the surgery.
The neuter goes smoothly in the sterile suite, and Lemmy recovers uneventfully.
After waking up, he begins licking at his incision. Thus, he needs an Elizabethan collar, or the cone of shame. This will keep his sutures safe until their removal.
He goes home the same day with only pain medication. I’ll see him in two weeks.
Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.