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Animal Preparation

Preparation of the animal for surgery includes removal of fur and cleansing of the skin around the surgical site.

Protect the eyes

The eyes of animals under general anesthesia remain open and the corneal surface will dry out if not protected. Sterile ophthalmic ointment must be placed in the eyes of anesthetized animals to prevent corneal injury. Non-ophthalmic products such as petroleum or lubricating jellies must not be used.

Fur Removal

Aseptic surgical preparation includes removal of the hair surrounding the incision site by clipping, plucking or sometimes, depilatories. This must take place in an area separate from the location of surgery. Note: Since depilatories can irritate the skin they should be applied for a short period of time and then thoroughly rinsed from the skin.

Protect the patient from hypothermia

Rodents lose body heat quickly during anesthesia. For all procedures, insulate the rodent from underlying cold surfaces. If an animal will be anesthetized for more than 5 to 10 minutes (including recovery time), it should be placed on a warm surface. Warm water circulating pads or far infrared warming pads are typically used protect the animal from hypothermia during and after surgery. Electric heating pads or heat lamps are not recommended as they may cause burns or overheating of animals.

Scrub the surgical site

The incision area should be cleaned with a non-irritating, germicidal soap such as povidone-iodine or chlorhexidine. Sterile cotton swabs can be used for small rodents. Scrubbing should follow a circular pattern that begins at the incision site and gradually moves outward in concentric circles, as illustrated in the diagram below. A new cotton swab or gauze pad must be used with each scrub circle.


The site should be rinsed with sterile water or 70% alcohol following the same pattern. Repeat the scrub and rinse a second time. It is critical that rodents are not soaked with water or alcohol, which can lead to hypothermia.

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