Shaving your pet for surgery: Yes, it’s necessary

Wonks the Cat is resting after her surgery. Find out why some questions are crazier than others for this north shore vet hospitals

Patient Wonks the Cat is resting after her surgery.

North shore vet hospitals get their fair share of myth-busting to do. But in the “things they never teach you at vet school” file, we have a funny little question (or complaint, depending on the person asking) in “do you have to shave my pet for surgery?”

Now some of you may have just spat out your coffee, water or lunch at the thought of that question being asked. But the team at Fox Valley Animal Hospital are asked it more than you may realise.

And it’s not just north shore vet hospitals who face this question either! So here is why we need to shave your pet for surgery 

1)      To help assess the extent of the problem

With some ailments such as bites (insects or otherwise), infections, diseases and reactions, not everything we see in a localised spot tells the entire tale of the damage. We may need to look for additional tick craters, check for lesions from a disease, look for secondary infection sites, or simply see the liver spotting, blood patterning and other clues a particular ailment may leave on the skin in order to diagnose and treat it properly.

The same goes for accidents, impacts and injuries. Being able to see the extent of the damage and what we need to do to fix your pet’s problem can come down to a mix of external examination, x-ray and other specialist equipment such as cameras and ultrasound.

In some situations, seconds count. If we need to remove fur to properly assess your pet’s situation and make a call on how to make your pet well again, we’d much rather have a less furry pet than a seriously ill or dead one with a great haircut on our hands.

2)      It’s about visibility

We’re a clever bunch at Fox Valley Animal Hospital. As far as north shore vet hospitals go, we’re well trained and extremely seasoned in a lot of veterinary practises. So sometimes we can make a small incision, work our magic and easily knit things back together with skin, bone and muscle.

Other times, it can be a lot more complex.

And that complexity is influenced by the problem your family pet is facing, the type of procedure we have to perform, what shape your pet’s skin and body is in (old age, obesity, overall health, allergies, size, type of pet, breed, and a whole host of other things influence this), and the type of instruments we need to use to perform the surgery.

And that’s just for starters.

The reason is we take enough fur from your pet in order to do the work we need to do safely, efficiently, and with minimum hassle during the procedure.

We’re fairly sure you’d much rather a trimmer fur coat than to prolong the surgery, block the surgical equipment, or risk unnecessary injury through not being able to see properly.

After all, the longer your pet is under anaesthetic the greater the risk of complication. So a little hair removal can go a long way to making sure your pet is out of surgery quicker by allowing us to clearly see what we need to do.

3)      It’s part of the healing process

Some surgeries need drainage. Others need stiches removed and/or need bandages. Some need a combination of this and more. And other injuries don’t need as much post operation work as others. Practises and preferences may vary between north shore vet hospitals.

Sometimes we won’t know until we are on the operating table, but we need to be prepared for a few eventualities.

Not all wounds heal in the exact same way or have the same level of aftercare required. So even if it looks like a small area of operation, sometimes we need to shave a wider area so that fur and skin don’t get caught in the bandages or start interfering with your pet’s ability to recover and heal.

Making your pet’s road to recovery as simple, comfortable and as expedient as possible is what we aim for. So if that means a little extra fur on the clipping room floor, we’ll do it. Health always tops fashion around here!

The bottom line on shaving your pet for surgery

We don’t shave your pet because we’ve got some extra time on our hands or a fantastic new hair-do in mind. We shave your pet prior to surgery to provide the outstanding level of healthcare you expect for your family pet.

And let’s face facts here- its fur! It grows back and your pet doesn’t suffer without it.  As much as we love projecting human behaviour on our family pets, the reality is the other pets in the house, neighbourhood and park are not snickering behind their paws every time a freshly operated on four paw strolls past.

When it comes to shaving your pet ready for surgery or a medical procedure, please understand we only have the best health outcome for your pet in mind.

Even when they look better suited to a punk night club than an animal hospital.

Want to know more about pet surgery and what to expect? We’re one of the few north shore vet hospitals where the phone is always available to you for some extra advice. Call us during business hours on (02) 9489 4805 to find out what you need to know now.





About the Author
Owner and Vet Alex Brittan, Vet Katie Syms and the team of Fox Valley Animal Hospital pride themselves on quality service. Fox Valley Animal Hospital is the one you choose for your family pet when the care your animal receives really matters.