All Surgeries Carry Risks
A necessary surgery can be life-saving. But all surgeries do carry risks, both during the surgery and the recovery. Is this surgery necessary? Are there other alternatives? Does your vet have experience with this procedure?
Selecting An Experienced Veterinarian
If you have a guinea pig that requires surgery, you may already have a competent vet who has diagnosed the problem and will perform the surgery.
If you suspect your pet may need surgery but do not have a veterinarian, see "Finding a Vet" for help in locating one. Ask these vets who they would recommend for difficult cases or for an after hours emergency.
Even a skilled surgeon can lose a healthy animal during a routine procedure (such as reactions to anesthesia) or post operatively (infection). Your vet should be able to provide you with an idea of how experienced he/she is, whether he/she has performed the surgery in question, and what kind of outcome these surgeries have had.
Some veterinarians also give SQ fluids with Vitamin B12, about 20mls during the surgery
Typical surgeries would include spays, neuters, and abscess removal. The vet should also be able to tell you:
How long should the animal fast before surgery?
There are two schools of thought. Some vets find one to two hours sufficient. Others fast for four to eight hours.
1-2 hours: Those who fast for one to two hours generally feel guinea pigs should not be fasted overnight because their digestive system requires a constant supply of food. It is thought that guinea pigs cannot regurgitate food. Most vets have no problem with short fast times.
4-8 hours: In a few cases, guinea pigs under anesthesia have aspirated food trapped in hidden pocket in the throat. If a longer fast time (four to eight hours) is selected, glucose must be provided. It is usually combined with hydration fluids and given subcue to compensate. Pinta writes, "The longer fasting time is a NEW protocol and vets should be able to get more info on it thru their professional contacts or VIN."
What anesthetic is used?
Isoflurane and Sevoflurane are considered a safe anesthetics. Some veterinarians also give SQ fluids with Vitamin B12, perhaps 20 mls or so during the surgery.
Is anesthesia monitored by an experienced technician familiar with guinea pigs?
Your veterinarian and his/her staff work as a team to ensure a successful surgery.
Is pain medication provided?
If your vet does not provide pain medication, is he/she close enough (with convenient hours) that you get pain meds if you need them?
- See also: Pain Management
Is the recovery process closely monitored by technicians familiar with guinea pigs?
Not allowing the guinea pig to get too cold is important to the recovery.
How long does it take the incision to heal?
Watch for signs of infection and tenderness.
Will the guinea pig be on antibiotics post operatively?
A topic of some debate: some vets will only provide antibiotics after an abscess removal or if contamination is suspected; others provide antibiotics following any surgery.
Not all vets prescribe antibiotics as part of post operative care. Because guinea pig infections can be hard to clear up (and due to the cheesy nature of the pus), an antibiotic like bactrim can offer some protection during the healing process.
POST OPERATIVE CARE
Be sure to read the Post Operative Care advice and tips.
If you are considering any kind of surgery, see Teresa's Cavy Spirit neutering page. While the examples illustrate a boar neuter, detailed information on the surgery itself (including two veterinary protocols for neutering a boar) and information on postoperative care is well researched and should be read carefully.