When your pet becomes seriously ill or has an accident and surgery is the only option, it can be stressful. It may be the best answer for your pet, but you’re still putting your beloved pet’s life in the hands of another. Trying to decide which is the best veterinary surgeon to perform the operation is just another difficult choice. But there are solutions to make you feel as if you are making a thorough and thoughtful decision.
There are many reasons for surgery for your pet. From having ingested a foreign object to much-needed a C-section. Below is a sampling of surgeries and the average cost of those surgeries:
Growth removal $125-$725
Gallbladder removal $855-$900
Foreign body removal $855
Dewclaw removal $125
Spay or neuter $150-$250
Cataract surgery $1500-$3,000
How to Choose a Veterinary Surgeon
Sometimes your vet can perform the type of surgery that your pet needs. Call to ask about different kinds of procedures they perform, which would save you the headache of trying to find another doctor. Many vets perform various surgeries such as neutering, exploratory surgeries, spaying and bladder surgeries.
Call your vet’s office to discuss the route you’d like to take. If your vet can’t perform the surgery your pet needs, they may have a recommendation of who can. Make sure the veterinary surgeon you choose is board certified. This is a vet who has not only completed the standard veterinary training, but also had an additional one-year internship. This internship would have been followed by a three-year residency. When you find a vet with this type of training, you’ll know they’re qualified for the type of surgery your pet will need.
When You Find a Veterinary Surgeon
When you find a veterinary surgeon you’re comfortable with and feel they are qualified to handle your pet’s surgery, then there are some questions you need to ask:
- What is my pet’s diagnosis? When talking to the surgeon ask for the exact name of the diagnosis. Ask the doctor for a copy of the pathologist’s report if a biopsy has been performed.
- What are the treatment options? Sometimes there are treatment options, and you need to be aware of them. Vets tend to recommend the best solution they can think of, but there could be a more conservative, less invasive option. There are usually reasons why one would be chosen over the other, and those reasons need to be made clear to you. The vet’s job is to discuss various options with you as well as the pros and cons so you can make an intelligent choice.
- Risks and complications: Every surgery has potential risks and complications. If the vet claims there isn’t any complications to the operation they want to perform, then walk away. A professional vet will be willing to explain the difficulties and risks. Minor complications can include bruising, oozing and swelling which are the natural consequences of surgeries. Complications with are serious can consist of, infection, severe bleeding, and the opening of the incision. Catastrophic complications can be a complete failure of the surgery.
- Amount of operations performed: It’s entirely within your right to ask the vet how many times they have personally performed this surgery.
- Prognosis: Ask what the vet hopes the outcome of the surgery will be. If they say that your pet’s life may be extended a year, it doesn’t always mean that your pet will. If a group of animals is studied and, on the average, their life expectancy increased by a year, there are still some animals who passed away within a lesser amount of time or have lived longer. It is merely an average of possible survival.
- Will my pet be kept warm during surgery? A pet will become cold under anesthesia just like people do. To be kept warm, warming devices are used such as warm water beds, warm air blankets, and fluid warmers. Keeping your pet warm during surgery is essential because pets who are cold when having surgery have a higher risk of infection and a slower rate of recovery.
- What happens during the surgical procedure? Be sure that the surgeon explains the procedure and what they are going to be doing during the surgery. Graphic details are up to you, you may or may not want to hear them. But you should understand the general idea of what the surgery is going to entail.
- Pain control: Pain control depends on the type of surgery your pet is going to have. If the operation is minor, pain injections may be given at the clinic. If the surgery is more intensive, your pet may be put on a pain medication schedule. When your pet is back home and seems to be uncomfortable, in pain, anxious or restless, call your vet about changing medications or upping the dosage.
- Overnight care: If your pet has to stay overnight, ask about overnight care. Will someone stay with them, or will they be left alone overnight? If you’re not happy with the overnight care situation, talk to the doctor about other options including being transferred to a local emergency clinic or even your personal vet.
Post-ops specifics differ depending on various factors such as your pet’s age, the condition of your pet and the type of surgery involved.
Most pets will be lethargic and sleepy during the first 12-24 hours after they have surgery. This is why it’s so important they recover and get lots of rest. Having a list of specific details that will cover your pet’s post-operative care will help you know what to expect.
Even if your pet only had a simple surgery, they’ll need time to recover and heal once home. One way to do this is to restrict activity. If you confine your pet, it will allow the tissue to heal and grow back together. If your pet becomes too active after surgery, the tissue may not bond correctly. This can cause the wound not to heal properly or to heal very slowly. The more the tissue area moves, the harder it is for the tissue to bond together. If the tissue doesn’t bond, then there is a higher risk of infections and complications.
Smaller incisions may only need three to seven days of restriction. You can confine your pet to a pen or a small room unless you have a high energy pet, he might have to be confined to a pen.
Incisions which are longer or in spots which will be rubbed, such as under the leg or ones which are on the ankle are a little more difficult. Incisions like these could require up to two weeks with stricter restrictions. This is to prevent the surgical sites from being disturbed and to allow the site to heal properly. If the surgery involves bones, your pet could be confined for up to six weeks if necessary.
One of the most frequently prescribed medicines after surgery are antibiotics. This medication is used to prevent infection. Pain medication is given to relieve pain from the surgery post-op.
For the incision itself, the best course is to leave it alone. If the incision becomes crusted or dirty, a rinse with diluted iodine is the best thing to use. Stay away from alcohol and peroxide which may delay healing and can be painful if used. If the incision feels hot, has visible gaps between the wound edges or is painful when touched, call the vet’s office.
Choosing the correct surgical vet and following the post-op orders will make sure your pet has a successful surgery.
After the procedure, some veterinarians will keep puppies overnight, and some allow them to go home. Pain medication will be provided whenever the puppy goes home.
When the puppy is home, they’ll be out of sorts for a night or two. The anesthetic will make them drowsy, but their ears will be sore. Be sure to give your puppy pain medication if they seem distressed.