Having an Operation

There are many reasons why it may be necessary for your pet to have an operation. Obviously there are routine surgeries such as spaying and castrating and there are operations to treat illness or injury.

Surgery can be performed to avoid problems developing later (e.g. the correction of congenital abnormalities such as in-growing eyelashes or hernias). Pets may also need surgery to make a diagnosis.


When you and your vet have decided that an operation is necessary, a date for the operation is chosen. Either at a previous consultation or during admission, your pet will be checked by your vet or nurse to ensure that they are fit and healthy, or if they are not to assess what additional treatments, modified anaesthetic regimes or other supportive therapies such as intravenous fluids may be advisable.

It may be appropriate to take a blood sample to check your pet’s health. This can be done on the morning of the operation, but is often better done a few days before to allow time for any appropriate treatment, if needed, to be given before the operation.

What about the care of my pet before the operation?

Dogs and cats can usually be fed the night before their operation but any remaining food removed before midnight so that your pet does not eat overnight. Occasionally longer periods without food may be necessary but you will be advised of that at the time of booking the operation. You can allow your pet access to water up to the time of admission.

Dogs should be taken out to the toilet on the morning before being brought to the surgery. Cats should be kept in so that they haven’t disappeared when it is time for them to come to the vets.

Rabbits and other small pets (apart from ferrets) should be allowed food prior to their operation and it is preferable for you to bring some of their usual food in with them.

Ferrets should be fed as early as possible on the morning of their operation (4am – 7am) and food withdrawn after this.


On the day of your pet’s operation bring them to the surgery at the time arranged.

Usual admissions times are:

Cotton Lane, Bury St Edmunds 8.00 – 9.30am
Bury Road Veterinary Clinic, Thetford 8.30 – 9.30am
Courthouse Clinic, Mildenhall 8.30 – 9.30am

When you arrive at the clinic you will be welcomed by our receptionist. One of our veterinary nurses, or occasionally your vet, will meet with you and take details such as when was your pet last fed, special care requirements and importantly your contact telephone numbers. A consent form detailing the operation to be performed on your pet will need to be signed. Your pet will then be admitted, weighed and settled into a kennel. They will usually be given a premedicant which, in addition to many other benefits, helps your pet to relax before their operation.


Urgent admissions

Occasionally your pet may need an urgent operation for example if they have been involved in a road accident. If time allows please contact the surgery first so that arrangements can be made for a vet to be free to assess your pet immediately. Your pet will then be admitted for further treatment.


We use fast-acting anaesthetics that are out of your pets system within minutes. Click here for more details


The majority of patients having operations can be admitted in the morning, have their operation and go home the same day in the afternoon or evening. Some animals, particularly if they have had a longer, more complex operation, or if they require special aftercare will need and benefit from a special period of hospitalisation(link to page) . During their stay in the clinic your pet will be looked after by our veterinary nurses and assessed regularly by a vet.



Appointments to collect your pet are often made when they are admitted, however sometimes it is necessary to wait until after they have recovered from the anaesthetic to choose an appropriate time. We ask you phone us after 2.00pm if you have not heard from us, to check on your pet’s recovery and confirm the discharge appointment time. When you pick up your pet ,any aftercare that they may require at home will be discussed and any medication needed dispensed. A follow up appointment will be arranged if required.

Post-operative care

When your pet returns home he/she will probably need some special after care which will depend on the type of operation they have had. Post-operative care can range from keeping them warm and quiet that night through to special feeding and exercise restriction. The specific requirements will be discussed when you collect your pet. If your pet requires more intensive care this will normally have been discussed with you before a decision is made to allow your pet home. If you have any concerns about the post-operative care please contact the nurse or vet looking after your pet.

Care of Bandages and Dressings

Bandages and dressings are applied to animals to protect and prevent further injury or provide pressure, comfort and support to the affected area. It is important that bandages are protected and cared for in an appropriate way.

Bandages or dressings should not be allowed to get dirty or wet. If wet, dressings can cause infections and wound break down. If the animal is going outside or on walks cover the area with a plastic bag to protect it. Remove this after the walk to prevent sweating or swelling.

You should check the bandage at least twice daily to detect any signs of infection, swelling, discoloration of the bandage, any sores, unpleasant smells or slippage of the bandage. If you do notice any of the above signs or are concerned for any reason, contact your veterinary surgeon for advice without delay. Bandages are sometimes essential in the healing process, however can cause major problems if not cared for and monitored properly.

If the dressing does become wet, damaged or soiled, seek assistance as soon as possible.

The dressing should be changed on veterinary advice, as close to the recommend time as possible. This is extremely important so do not miss a dressing change appointment or delay it.