What to Expect at Your Surgical or Orthopedic Visit

What should I bring to the consultation?

The consultation will include a physical exam of your pet, so please be sure they accompany you. It is important to bring as much current information regarding your pet’s condition as possible. If available bring a copy of your pet’s medical records, current blood work, and radiographs. For your convenience, the paperwork you’ll need can be downloaded below. Please feel free to print it out and bring it completed to your appointment.

What should I expect during the consultation?

While scheduling the consultation, our surgical coordinator will gather all pertinent client and patient information from you. After checking in at the front desk, a technician will obtain a brief medical history of your pet and your pet’s vital signs. Next, a surgeon will examine your pet and discuss your pet’s condition and further diagnostic and therapeutic options that are available. An estimate for services will be provided for possible surgery, treatment or medical management.

Reminders for your visit

Please arrive with your dog on a leash (must be less than 6 feet long) and/or your cat in a carrier.  This is for the safety of your pets, the other pets here, you  and our staff.  Many animals can become nervous and unpredictable when they are at the vet and may react in a way that they normally would not.  By keeping your furry family member on a leash or in a comfy carrier, it helps them feel more secure and not threatened by others or from being in a strange environment.

During the appointment you may think your pet is more comfortable when you help hold them for the doctor.

Unfortunately it is not in your pet’s  best interest to help hold your pet for an exam.  Pet’s can sometimes sense fear or nervousness from you and they might react negatively toward anyone restraining them, even for a simple exam.  Also, your pet might feel pain or discomfort during their physical examination, and it may cause they to nip, bite, scratch, jump, etc. when they normally would not behave that way.  Our staff is properly trained to restrain pets carefully and it is in your pet’s best interest to let us restrain for you.

What to Expect Before, During and After Surgery

In preparation for surgery

Preoperative Lab Work: Before any surgery, it is important to rule-out potential health risks; for your pets safety, we request that blood work be done within 2-6 weeks of the scheduled surgery day (unless otherwise discussed with your pet’s surgeon).

Preoperative medication guidelines

pet-15Please bring a detailed list of all medications or supplements with you the day of surgery.  If your pet requires any medications during their stay, please bring them with you.  This applies to special food diets as well.

If your pet is on steroids, or aspirin, please let us know immediately. These medications limit our choices for postoperative pain relief, and can increase the risk of bleeding disorders and/or infection. Generally, we need your pet off these medications for at least 5-7 days before any surgical procedure.  We can help devise a step down plan to achieve this goal.  Your surgeon will discuss with you what will be in your pet’s best interest.

The night before surgery

Take all food and snacks away from your pet after 10 p.m.  A small amount of water is okay to leave available.

If you normally give nighttime medications, continue as normal, unless directed otherwise by our staff.

The day of surgery

When you arrive to drop off, expect to:

  • Sign the Consent for Surgery form
  • Fill out the Anesthesia Questionnaire
  • Verify phone numbers where a family member can be contacted
  • Leave a deposit (LOW end of the surgical estimate); unless other previous arrangements have been made
  • Briefly meet with admitting technician to answer any questions

Important reminders

When you arrive to drop off, expect to:

  • Make sure your pet has attempted to both urinate and defecate before admitting
  • If your pet already has an E-collar (aka lampshade, or cone) please bring it with you at admit drop-off
  • Please have an idea of any medication refills you may need for post op
  • It is a good idea to have your pet groomed prior to surgery, he/she may not have another opportunity for 2-10 weeks

Importance of E-Collars (Elizabethan collar)

E-collars are a vital part of post-operative care for your pet.  They prevent your pet from biting, licking, pawing, rubbing and scratching at incisions or from trying to eat off a bandage.  With the healing process comes boredom and an itchy incision.  Even the calmest, quietest, and most well behaved pet may be enticed to nibble at their incision or bandage as soon as you turn around!

The e-collar should be worn at all times that your pet is unattended for the first two to three weeks after surgery (until the incision recheck exam).  Please do not remove the e-collar before the surgeon has directed you to do so.

Risks of removing e-collar at home post-op:

  • Chewed out stitches (may require additional surgery or sedated re-closure)
  • Wounds that can require additional procedures or antibiotic therapy
  • Infection requiring antibiotics
  • Bandage trauma, which can lead to bandage sores, infection and more frequent bandage changes
  • Additional costs due to any of the above complications


Signs of a possible infection: 

  • Excessive redness around the surgery site
  • Glossy/shiny
  • Incision is warm/hot to the touch
  • Fever (temperature is over 102 degrees)
  • Pus (thick, whitish-yellow fluid) or discharge from the incision
  • Bleeding (bright red)

Planning surgery for the future? Maybe surgery is scheduled for the next week or two – get the e-collar now to practice!!  Get your furry family member used to it before the big day!  Work on giving your pet treats and praise when practicing putting the e-collar on and off.  Start to leave on for an hour or two at a time.

My pet can’t eat, sleep, or drink water with this thing on!  Here are some tips!

  • Use bowls that are smaller in diameter than the cone
  • Move bowls away from walls to give more space and easier access
  • Create a make shift elevated stand for food and water bowl. Try using a footstool or taller stable base.  Sometimes the opposite may work better, try placing bowl directly on floor (if it is normally in a stand)
  • Try a shallow bowl or plate
  • Hand feeding will work in worst-case scenarios
  • If you must remove the e-collar for eating and drinking, monitor your post-op buddy during the whole process and then replace the e-collar once he/she is done eating
  • Your furry friend may take a night or two to adjust to sleeping with the cone on, but they will find the right position and rest well, even with it on
  • Try NOT to remove the e-collar very often. The more consistently they wear it, the faster they will adjust.

Aren’t there different types of e-collars?  Yes, but all are not equal! 

  • The veterinary surgeons will discuss what will work best for your pet individually, for most orthopedic surgeries the hard plastic e-collars will be recommended


  • There are soft-sided fabric e-collars. Sometimes these soft e-collars can be easily bent and maneuvered around.  Large dogs and small-long bodied (dachshunds, corgis, etc.) dogs can reach around them and depending on the location of the incision they may not offer adequate protection


  • “Donut” inflatable e-collars and bite not collars, can sometimes be appropriate for the right patients based on the incision location