Surgical Procedures - What's Involved?

The trust you have in us to care for your pet in your absence is not taken for granted and we always put the best interest of your pet foremost.

It is important to VetEnt that you understand what happens to your pet when they come to us for surgery. We appreciate that you may feel anxious leaving your pet with us and I hope the following article will help ease any concern. 

The first step in preparation for your pets’ surgery starts at home with you. It is important they come into the clinic on the day of surgery having fasted the night before. Pre-anaesthetic medications given prior to surgery can make your pet feel sick. Vomiting food during this time (when they become drowsy) increases the risk of choking and possible inhalation into their lungs. They should only be given a small meal before 8 o’clock the night before surgery. They are allowed free access to water prior to being dropped off to clinic.

In addition, your pet should be clean and be toileted prior to arrival at the clinic. The veterinary surgeon can then concentrate on the surgical procedure without worrying about contamination from a dirty skin or coat and without the bladder obscuring the surgical site.

Pre-Anaesthetic Checks

When you bring your pet to us for surgery you will have a consultation with our qualified veterinary nurse. She will start collection of relevant information from you and your pet prior to the final veterinary check. At this point you will have the opportunity to ask questions about the surgical procedure and also advise us if there are any additional requirements you may have. This is to ensure we meet your expectations and hope we eliminate any causes of concern that you may have.

If any abnormality (i.e. abnormal heart sounds, elevated temperature or signs of being ‘on heat’ etc) is detected the veterinary nurse will contact the surgeon. The surgeon will then assess the situation and a decision will be made whether the surgery proceeds. Depending on circumstances the veterinarian will discuss your options which may eventuate in re-scheduling your appointment at a later date. More often than not the abnormalities detected at the clinical exam are relatively minor. However, we will not subject your pet to an anaesthetic or surgery if we are not completely happy with the clinical signs.

It is highly recommended that pre-anaesthetic blood work is preformed prior to any surgical procedure on your pet, especially if they are geriatric (dogs over 7 years and cats over 8 years are considered to be senior) or have concurrent disease. Blood work provides us with valuable information regarding the internal health of your pet. Remember, that a physical exam is only part of the clinical picture and at times will not provide us enough detail. Any abnormalities detected from blood work help us determine what drugs are best suited for use on your pet and more importantly what drugs should not be used. Worse case scenario, it will also help us assess the risk of an anaesthetic and quite possibly sway us not to go ahead with surgery until a later date or at all. We will discuss any abnormal results with you and let you make an informed decision.

After the pre-anaesthetic check the veterinarian will liaise with the veterinary nurse and also check the vital signs of your pet before administration of their pre anaesthetic medication.

Fluids

We also recommend that for any major or prolonged surgery, for geriatric patients or those with concurrent disease that they be given intravenous (I.V.) fluids. This involves placing an intravenous catheter prior to beginning anaesthesia.

The benefits of your pet being placed on intravenous fluids far outweigh their cost. The first is to maintain blood pressure. When an anaesthetic drug is given your pets blood pressure will drop. Fluid therapy will ensure blood pressure is maintained which then ensures blood is pumped efficiently to vital organs. It is important that vital organ function (e.g. liver and kidney) is maintained as these organs are responsible for removing the drug from your pet once surgery has finished. Fluid therapy therefore hastens the recovery period after surgery. In addition, the surgical procedure often involves opening the abdomen. Your pet will lose fluid through evaporation and heat through this site. Intra venous fluids are warmed prior to surgery to help lessen the effect on body temperature and to replace any lost fluid.

Canine Spey: Surgical Procedure

Despite common belief that a spey (or ovariohysterectomy) is a simple routine surgery, it is in fact major abdominal surgery. As such it is approached by our staff very seriously. The surgery involves opening the abdomen for complete removal of their ovaries and uterus.

The abdomen is clipped and prepared so that it is sterile. The clip is usually quite extensive and much larger than the surgical site to reduce infection from surrounding hair. The site is also draped with a sterile cloth for the same reason. We make a midline incision on the abdomen. Surgical time is dependant on many factors (i.e. size and age of the dog) but commonly lasts between 30 minutes to one hour.

The most common reason to spey your dog is to prevent oestrus (‘on-heat’’) behaviour and subsequent male dog visitors. A follow on effect of this is the prevention of unwanted offspring. In addition, good reasons include aiding in the prevention of mammary and other reproductive tumors, and also potentially fatal uterine infections.

 
 
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After-Care

The care of your pet does not stop after the surgical procedure. A qualified veterinary nurse will stay by their side until it is safe to take out the tube which has been down their airway (and was connected to the anaesthetic machine). Anaesthesia reduces the ability of the body to regulate its temperature. It is important that we help your pet maintain body warmth with heat pads and blankets. After the procedure we leave them in a quiet and warmed (air-conditioned) cage where they can recover in their own time. The nurse will regularly check in on each patient and report back to the veterinarian on their recovery progress.

The recovery process takes time. We endeavor to do all routine surgery mid-morning, so that your pet will have the afternoon for post-op recovery. On occasion, the veterinarian may advise that your pet stay here at the clinic over-night particularly if in the unlikely event surgery was done later, was more difficult than expected, or if recovery wasn’t as smooth as planned.

At Home Again

We believe all surgical cases should be provided with pain relief prior, throughout and after their procedure. Those who have experienced a surgical procedure themselves will understand the benefits pain relief will have on their pets. As part of the pre-medication your pet will be given pain relief before the surgical procedure. By giving it prior to the onset of pain, the degree of pain will be lesser. As your pet comes out of anaesthesia they are given additional pain relief lasting 24hrs. Depending on the type of surgery they may also go home with oral pain relief in the form of anti-inflammatories. These anti-inflammatories help reduce any swelling around the surgical site aiding the healing process. They will also help your pet return to full appetite quicker and will reduce the urge for them to self traumatize the wound.

When your pet goes home it is difficult at times to remember they have had major surgery and an anaesthetic. If allowed most patients would quite happily run out the clinic doors! Remember however, that the surgical procedure may have required the placement of internal sutures. Restricted movement will help reduce internal sutures from slipping. Exercise should be restricted to a leash and for toileting purposes only until suture removal. After suture removal exercise should be increased gradually.

Any sutures should be checked twice daily. Should the suture line become red, swollen or discharge excessively please contact us. It may also be necessary to place an Elizabethan collar if your pet insists on licking the area. Excessive licking can aggravate and inflame the suture line and can introduce infection.

Water and a small meal can be offered shortly after your animal returns home unless otherwise directed by the veterinarian. Don’t be alarmed if your pet’s appetite does not return to normal the same night as surgery. In addition, speying or neutering your pet will alter their metabolism. They will be more prone for weight gain so it is essential the diet is adjusted accordingly.

Suture removal should be done 10-14 days post surgery. Please ring and make an appointment for your complimentary post-operative check.

Conclusion

I hope this has helped you to understand the process we go through when you present your pet to us for a procedure requiring an anaesthetic and surgery. We absolutely believe and stand by our best practice approach to every patient we have under our care. If you have any additional questions you want answered please don’t hesitate to make contact with us at the clinic.

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For emergencies or urgent appointments within the next 24 hours, please phone the clinic directly.

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