Surgery River Road Veterinary Hospital

Because They're Family

Pet Surgery in Andover

Delivering the Best Care for Pets in the Greater Andover Area

If your pet is in need of a surgery, you most likely have a lot of questions and concerns. At River Road Veterinary Hospital, we are aware of how stressful it can be when your little loved one is in need of one of these procedures. That’s why we go above and beyond to make sure you and your pet are as comfortable as possible every step of the process. Our Andover pet surgery team will be with your pet from the moment you arrive until you bring him or her home.

Below is an explanation of what you can expect when your pet comes in for a surgical procedure or any procedure involving anesthesia. You can also visit our Facebook page or our YouTube channel to see "Brix's Dental Cleaning" for a video of an anesthetic procedure at River Road Veterinary Hospital.

If you ever have any questions about our pet surgeries, our highly-skilled veterinarians are happy to help. Don’t hesitate to give us a call at (978) 306-4144. We provide care to pets in Andover, Lawrence, and Methuen.

Pre-Anesthetic Bloodwork

24 to 48-hours prior to your pet's procedure, you will have an appointment with a pet nurse for pre-anesthetic bloodwork. This is full bloodwork that evaluates both the complete blood count and chemistries (liver, kidney values, etc.). This is done for every patient that is to be anesthetized to ensure that they are free from any underlying diseases and to keep them as safe as possible.

Morning Admission

There will be several admission forms to complete the morning of your pet's procedure. We will be asking for an emergency contact number that you may be reached at that morning in case we have any questions or concerns. These forms will also discuss any ancillary procedures you may wish to have done while your pet is anesthetized, such as a nail trim, microchip placement, and anal gland expression.

After you complete some admission paperwork at the front desk, you will meet with the doctor. They will discuss the results of the pre-anesthetic bloodwork and perform a pre-anesthetic exam. Together you will discuss any questions or concerns about the surgery and aftercare, although these will be discussed again at your discharge appointment.

For safety reasons, we do not leave collars or leashes on pets in the hospital. We will remove and return any leashes and collars for you following the surgery. If you would like to bring a couple of items from home, like a toy or personal clothing item, you are welcome to do so (items you choose may become soiled). Your pet is brought to the treatment area where their temperature, pulse, and respiration are also recorded. They will have a paper collar placed on them, which is similar to the ID bands used in human hospitals. They will then be settled into their private kennel in the ICU.

IV Catheter Placement

A small area of fur will be shaved on a leg where the IV catheter is to be placed. This catheter will be used to administer IV fluids during surgery to maintain blood pressure and hydration and will also provide venous access for medications, emergency or routine, should they be needed.

Anesthetizing Patient

There are several steps to anesthetizing your pet. First, they are given an injection to pre-medicate them. These are drugs given prior to anesthetic induction to reduce stress and provide preemptive analgesia (relief from pain). They also allow for a reduction of induction and maintenance drugs. Pets are then given an induction agent. This is given via the catheter and allows us to intubate (pass a tube into the windpipe), which will be used to breath gas anesthetic during surgery.

Surgical Preparation

The surgical site is clipped and scrubbed in a special method to lessen the bacteria normally present on the skin, therefore decreasing the chance of infection. Our patients are kept warm by water circulating blankets.


The surgeon wears a cap, mask, and sterile gown and gloves. Sterilized surgical packs, drapes, scalpel blades, and sutures are all needed for surgery. During surgery, patient temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, pulse quality, fluid rates, pulse ox, and depth of anesthesia are all continuously monitored by a trained pet nurse.

Post-Op Recovery

Immediately after surgery, the patient is monitored and, when awake enough, is extubated (endotracheal tube removed). Additional pain medication is given if needed. For the next few hours, your pet's temperature, respirations, and comfort level are closely monitored. The IV catheter is removed, and a bandage placed.

Discharge Appointment

When it is time to take your pet home, you will have a discharge appointment scheduled with a pet nurse. The pet nurse will come into the exam room and discuss all discharge instructions, including what to expect when your pet arrives home. If you have any additional questions or would like to speak to the doctor directly, this can also be arranged. Any medications you are taking home will be reviewed, and care of bandages and incisions will be discussed. Depending on the surgery, there may be follow-up appointments that need to be arranged, and we will schedule these before you leave.


We will contact you the day after surgery to see if you have any questions and to check how your pet is doing. Depending on the type of surgery, sometimes there are follow-up appointments needed.

There is a lot to know about pet surgeries. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our veterinarians provide care to pets in Andover, Lawrence, and Methuen.

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