Questions to Ask Your Vet About Orthopedic Surgery

Sometimes, pets need orthopedic surgery for injuries that are similar to your orthopedic needs as a human. Complications from arthritis, limb amputations, spinal disc problems in the back and neck, patellar luxations and fracture repairs are some of the reasons why a pet would need to undergo a surgical procedure. When your veterinarian suggests surgery for a condition, it's usually for good reason: Your vet has seen something on the X-rays that won't resolve through non-surgical intervention, and surgery is the best or only option to treat the issue.

Asking your vet questions prior to orthopedic surgery helps you understand what's going on with your pet, how the surgery will proceed, and what you can expect your pet will need during the recovery period. Following are several questions you can ask for more insight:

Is the surgery necessary?

When your vet sees something on an X-ray that shows there's an issue, they can determine if surgery needs to be done immediately, in the near future or if it can be put off for a while. If there are non-surgical treatment options, your vet will discuss them with you but sometimes surgery is the best course of action because it offers the best outcome.

What's involved in the procedure?

You want to understand as much as possible about the procedure because of the impact it has on your pet. You may need to be more cautious when doing certain activities with your pet after the surgery. When you know what was done, you can react accordingly and make better decisions for your pet when it comes to play time, handling and activities.

What do I need to do to prepare my pet beforehand?

Always ask this question to make sure your pet is ready to undergo the procedure the day it's scheduled. Your vet will inform you of what preparation is needed, but in general, your pet has to fast the night before the surgery, although water consumption may be allowed.

When can I pick up my pet?

Orthopedic surgeries last anywhere from two to four hours, but your pet requires monitoring for complications afterwards. Some procedures require an overnight stay for post-operative monitoring, while you can take your pet home the same day for others. Sometimes a pet needs more monitored recovery time, but that won't be apparent until after the procedure is finished. Your veterinarian will tell you what to expect for the type of surgery your pet is undergoing.

What will my pet's quality of life be like afterwards?

Some pets experience a full recovery after a procedure while others need to adapt to the changes and may not be the same as they were before the condition worsened or the injury happened. The goal of surgery is to give your pet the ability to live free from pain and enjoy a good quality of life. Knowing how your pet's life will change after surgery helps prepare you for what's to come.

Orthopedic surgery for pets has the potential to restore freedom of movement, relief from pain and alleviate stress for your pet and yourself. Asking questions helps you understand why surgery is necessary and how it affects your pet's life. Veterinarians understand why you're asking questions and can help educate you on what to expect from the orthopedic surgical procedures.

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