What Happens Before and After an Anaesthetic or Surgery

If your pet is to have an anaesthetic, either for a diagnostic procedure or a surgical procedure, there are several important things you need to be aware of prior to their procedure. 

Prior to the Anaesthetic Procedure

Prior to an anaesthetic procedure it is very important to limit your pets access to food. Your pet needs to be fasted prior to the procedure. This means that they can have their dinner, however ALL food must be removed after 8pm the night before their procedure. Water is still allowed. For the health of your pet, and our other patients in our surgery, we also recommend your pet is clean and they are up-to-date with flea treatment and vaccinations.

The exception to this fasting rule is if your pet is a rabbit, ferret, guinea pig or if your pet has a specific health condition and your Vet has directed you to feed them.

Admission Procedure

On the morning of the procedure, please allow sufficient time for your pet to go to the toilet prior to arriving at the Veterinary Surgery. Your pet will have an admission time booked between 8:30am and 9:30am. When you arrive at the Surgery, your pet will be weighed and will have an admission consultation. A physical examination will be performed to assess your pet’s health as well as their heart and lungs. A pre-anaesthetic blood test is also recommended on ALL patients prior to anaesthesia if this has not been performed recently. The blood tests we recommend include:

  • Pre-anaesthetic blood test – If your pet is over 7 years old, this test is compulsory. If they are younger, it is strongly recommended. To obtain a complete physiologic picture of your pet’s health, this blood test allows us to assess their liver and kidneys, two of the organs important for processing the anaesthetic drugs. This information allows us to better tailor the anaesthesia to suit your pet and reduce the anaesthetic risks. For more information about this blood test, click HERE.
  • Heart Blood Test for cats - Heart disease is a common disease of cats. It has been shown to affect approximately 15% of healthy cat populations. Cats are able to hide their heart disease well, making detection of heart disease very difficult. Compared to dogs, it is not easily detected simply by listening to the heart with a stethoscope. For breeds of cats who are at-risk to heart disease (Maine Coons, Rexes, Persians, Sphynx and Ragdolls) and all elderly cats, we strongly recommend this test. For more information, click HERE.

Please allow 20 minutes for your pet to be admitted into the surgery. This allows us time to examine your pet, ensure all details of your pet and their procedure are correct, and time for us to answer any questions you may have. You will be asked to sign a consent form, giving us written permission to perform the procedures we have discussed.

Procedures Throughout the Day

The time at which your pet has their procedure will depend on the type of procedure they are having, and the number of other procedures we have booked for that day. While your pet is waiting for their procedure, they will be hospitalised with a comfortable bed. They will be given a pre-anaesthetic medication which reduces any anxiety, causes mild sedation and provides pain relief.

We are aware that as a pet parent you may be anxious about the procedure and concerned about your pet. We will keep you informed throughout the day about the status of your pet, when they have their procedure and when they are recovering from their procedure. PLEASE ensure you or someone is contactable throughout the day.

All pets who undergo anaesthesia at McLaren Vale Veterinary Surgery are given intraveneous fluids. This helps to support their organ function and blood pressure whilst under anaesthesia. In some patients, this fluid therapy may also be required before and after anaesthesia. Your pet will also be kept warm following anaesthesia. Once they have recovered from the anaesthesia, they will also be offered food and water. Your pet is then monitored closely by our surgical nursing team, ensuring any pain is managed, prior to their discharge.


A discharge appointment will be booked between 4pm and 6pm. This appointment time will be with a surgical nurse or Veterinarian. During this time we will discuss with you the procedure that your pet had, as well as any home care instructions or medications. If possible, we aim to send you a payment link prior to your discharge appointment. This allows you to pay for the procedure prior to your discharge. This allows us to focus all our time on the discussion of your pet, the outcome of the procedure and their ongoing care.

The First Night at Home

Anaesthetic drugs can take 24 hours to be completely removed from the body. This means that your pet may still be sleepy following the procedure. It is important that your pet is kept inside in a warm environment and monitored. Please offer your pet food and water. However, due to the anaesthetic drugs, and the intraveneous fluids administered, your pet may not be interested in food or water the first night. This can be normal. Depending on the procedure your pet has had, exercise may need to be restricted. Please refer to any post-operative instructions your vet has provided and please give all post-operative medication as instructed. If you have any concerns about medications please feel free to contact the surgery to confirm.

If your pet has a surgical site this must be monitored closely. If your pet is able to lick at the surgical site, they must wear an Elizabethan Collar to prevent this. Please monitor the surgical site daily. If there is any swelling, discharge, or your pet appears distressed, please contact our Surgery immediately.

For our rabbit patients, it is very important that they are eating as soon as they get home. If they are not eating, you may need to syringe food into them. If your rabbit is not eating the day after surgery, please contact our Surgery immediately.