Bone Cancer in Dogs
Questions for the Vet
Have a list of your medications and supplements and review them with the surgeon.
Which ones should be stopped, and how far in advance? Some anti-inflammatories and herbs have blood–thinning properties and should be stopped several days before. If your surgeon is not your regular vet, check with your regular vet first.
Ask the surgeon which medications should be stopped, how far in advance, and why.
If the surgeon recommends stopping all medications, including pain medicines, ask what you should do for pain management until the day of surgery.
If you did not have a biopsy before surgery, with detailed pathology report, make sure to request a copy of the pathology evaluation after amputation.
A good specimen can be removed after surgery and sent to the lab. The type of cells may influence decisions about further treatment, based on actual cell type and level of differentiation of cells.
Ask the surgeon whether post-amputation evaluation of the removed lymph nodes should be done.
Is there 24 hour post-operative coverage at the vet hospital? If so, who watches them?
How often are they checked? Can the surgeon or covering doctor be reached at any time if necessary? (If not, plan on bringing your dog home the same day of surgery or transferring to an emergency veterinarian facility). Hiring one of the vet techs from the practice may be an option if there is no 24 hour coverage. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOUR DOG BE LEFT ALONE UNSUPERVISED AFTER SURGERY.
If your hospital doesn't offer 24 hour emergency care, where is the nearest facility?
What is the surgeon going to be doing for pain control during surgery?
Local and regional nerve blocks with a drug called bupivacaine completely stop pain signals from reaching the brain and spinal cord when working on the front limbs. If it is a hind limb amputation, an epidural and local block should also be utilized. There are regional blocks for the front leg as well. In either front or rear limb amputation, something called a “Constant Rate Infusion” (CRI) should also be administered. A CRI typically contains 1 to 4 different pain medications and is dripped in through an intravenous catheter before, during, and immediately after a surgery.
Which pain medications will be given after the surgery?
Fentanyl? Gabapentin? What are the side effects? Click here to review Pain Management. How long will the dog be on these medicines? When was the last dose before discharge?
When can you restart supplements (if you stopped them pre-op)?
Will there be a bandage?
If so, when should it be changed? If not, what should you cover the wound with, if anything? Is it okay to use a T-shirt or boxer shorts to protect the amputation wound?
Should you apply ice over the surgical site? If so, when can you start and for how long at a time?
How much wound drainage is "normal"?
When will the drainage start? What parameters should you use to call the doctor?
How much swelling should you expect at the surgical site?
Are antibiotics being prescribed?
When was the last dose before discharge, and when is the next dose due? Can it be given without food? Will the pain medicines affect the antibiotic or vice-versa?