What will Happen to my Pet in the Hospital?
Day patients are asked to arrive at the vets between 8.00 and 8.30 in the morning. They will have an admission appointment with one of the vets on a first come first served basis. During this appointment the vet will discuss the procedure with the owner. They will check for any changes since the previous consultation and make an assessment of health in relation to the procedure being carried out. They will discuss whether pre-anaesthetic blood tests are recommended for that particular patient, to check health and organ function. The owner’s contact details are taken and other points for us to take into account such as what sort of food the patient likes. A premed is usually then given by injection under the skin; this will calm the patient settling them into their cage better. A relaxed patient results in a smoother induction and recovery from the anaesthetic. The premed also provides pain relief for surgical procedures and lowers the dose needed for some anaesthetic drugs.
They are then taken by the vet through to the hospital and settled in a suitable cage, with a comfortable bed. A pheromone diffuser is used in the kennel areas to try and create a relaxed atmosphere for them. There is a specific nurse responsible for day patients while they are waiting for and recovering from their procedures. They are free to fuss and monitor patients and make sure they have everything they need.
Soon after admission any requested pre-anaesthetic blood samples are taken by the nurses. Patients are restrained carefully and blood samples are usually taken from the jugular vein in the neck after clipping away a small patch of hair. Most cats and dogs do not mind this being done, it is fairly quick and they are soon returned to their kennels. The blood tests are then run on our own laboratory equipment. The vet can then check the results and decide if any intravenous fluids are needed to support the body or if there are any other changes in the treatment plan. If intravenous fluids are needed a catheter is placed into the vein in the front leg of the patient, a small patch of hair is also clipped for this procedure. The catheter is bandaged into place; this is attached to a drip line, a bag of fluids and a pump. The pump administers a certain amount of fluids per hour; the patient is free to move about with the catheter in place.
Procedures are carried out from about 9 O’clock; more complicated sterile surgical procedures such as bitch spays are completed first. When the vets are ready for each patient they are led or carried through to the procedure room by the operating nurse.
Where anaesthetics are required, the vet will decide on the best protocol for that particular animal and whether or not an inhalation anaesthetic is required. The vet will usually inject liquid anaesthetic into the vein in the front leg with the nurse holding and they will be asleep within seconds. The vet then places a breathing tube in the patient’s airway to maintain anaesthesia by means of a gas and supplemental oxygen. We use the safest modern anaesthetic agents such as Propofol and Sevoflurane.
The nurse monitors the patient’s vital signs during the anaesthetic adjusting the anaesthetic agents as required. Heatpads may be used during or after procedures to make sure the patients maintain their body temperature, as this can drop during anaesthesia and surgery. When the procedure is over the anaesthetic gas is turned off and just oxygen will be given until the nurse can extubate the patient. They are then taken back to their kennel to recover, where the patient’s aftercare and monitoring is passed over to the recovery nurse.
As soon as they are allowed or are awake enough, animals are offered food and water. We will try to offer similar food to the patient’s home diet or for post-anaesthesia we will feed Royal Canin recovery diets. These are specially designed to be easily digested they are also high in good quality protein to help start the healing process.
Cats are provided with a litter tray and dogs will be walked in the gardens as soon as they are able to.
Owners are asked to ring to check on their pet’s progress between 2.30 and 3.30. A nurse will be able to advise how the patient is and when they will be able to go home. A discharge appointment is then made; this is usually with one of the nurses. In some cases the vet will telephone the owner, or will arrange to see them at the discharge. At the discharge appointment the nurse will go through the patient’s procedure, outline any postoperative care or treatment needed, and book any further appointments necessary. They will then take payment for the procedure and bring the patient out to reception in their basket or on their lead to be reunited with their owner.