Common Surgery For Dogs
Canine Castration or Neutering
A castration (neuter) is the surgical removal of the male reproductive organs. The operation removes the two testicles.
This operation is indicated to prevent pregnancy, remove diseased or cancerous testicles, reduce male behavior such as urine marking, territorial aggression and roaming, and markedly decrease the risk of acquired diseases of the male reproductive system. The neuter operation essentially removes the possibility of testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostatic enlargement.
Preoperative tests depend in part on the age and general health of the pet. In young dogs, minimal tests are recommended provided the pet has been vaccinated, dewormed, and proven healthy based on clinical examination. In older animals, it is common to perform a routine blood count and chemistry profile prior to anesthesia. These recommendations vary on a case-by-case basis and depend on the overall health of the pet.
The procedure requires general anesthesia to induce complete unconsciousness and relaxation. In the usual case, the pet receives a pre-anesthetic sedative-analgesic drug to help him relax, a brief intravenous anesthetic to allow placement of a breathing tube in the windpipe, and subsequently inhalation (gas) anesthesia in oxygen during the actual surgery.
Following anesthesia, the pet is placed on a surgical table, lying on his back. The hair just in front of the scrotum (the skin pouch containing the testicles) is clipped and the skin is scrubbed with surgical soap to disinfect the area. A sterile drape is placed over the surgical site. Your veterinarian uses a scalpel to incise the skin just in front of the testicles. The testicles are identified and the major blood vessels and vas deferens are ligated (tied off). This must be done before these organs can be removed. Sutures (stitches) that dissolve over time are used to tie off the blood vessels. The incision is then closed with one or two layers of self-dissolving sutures (stitches). The outer layer of skin is closed with skin glue, sutures, or surgical staples; the sutures and staples need to be removed in about 10 to 14 days.
The procedure takes about 20 minutes to 45 minutes to perform in most cases, including the needed time for preparation and anesthesia. In older or large-breed dogs the procedure can take longer.
The overall risk of this surgery in a healthy young pet is very low. While there are no published statistics, the risk of death is probably less than 1 in 500. The major risks are those of general anesthesia, bleeding (hemorrhage), post-operative infection, and wound breakdown (dehiscence) over the incision. Overall complication rate is low, but serious complications can result in death or the need for additional surgery.
Post-operative medication should be given to relieve pain, which is judged in most cases to be mild to moderate and can be effectively eliminated with safe and effective pain medicines. Generally young dogs begin to act normal within 24 to 48 hours and are released the same day or the day following surgery, and it is difficult to determine that they just completed surgery. The home care requires reduced activity until the stitches are removed in 10 to 14 days. You should inspect the incision line daily for signs of redness, discharge, swelling, or pain, and prevent your pet from licking the incision.
The typical stay is one day.
Cryptorchidism in Dogs
Cryptorchidism is the failure of one or both testicles to descend normally from the abdomen into the scrotum of young intact male dogs. The goals of treating this disorder are to prevent subsequent torsion of the retained testicle(s) and to prevent development of testicular cancer. Treatment is also designed to prevent propagation of genetic abnormalities and to eliminate undesirable male behavioral traits associated with testosterone.
The therapeutic goals for cryptorchid dogs are all best accomplished by castration and removal of both testicles, whether they are retained or in the proper anatomical location. There is anecdotal evidence that certain medical “therapies,” such as hormone injections, may stimulate descent of retained testicles in puppies treated before 4 months of age, although this has not been proven. The ethics of such techniques are highly questionable given the genetic component of this disorder. Most breeders agree that cryptorchid dogs should not be considered candidates for breeding. Their fathers, male siblings and any male offspring have an increased chance of being genetic carriers of the condition, even if they do not have it themselves.
Undescended testicles can be difficult to locate. Transabdominal ultrasound can be very helpful to veterinarians trying to find retained testes, especially before surgery. Removal of retained testicles usually is more expensive than a normal castration procedure, because it almost always involves abdominal exploration. In rare cases, a retained testicle can be manually massaged down into the scrotum, making it easier and less costly to remove. A procedure that surgically relocates a retained testis into the scrotum – called orchiopexy – is not considered to be ethical among veterinary professionals or reputable breeders. Moreover, artificially relocated testicles carry the same increased risk of becoming cancerous as do testicles that remain retained.
After surgical removal of undescended testes, the dog will need some down time to recover. He should be given soft, thick bedding in a quiet area, with free access to fresh water. His activities should be restricted for a week or two, until the surgical incision has healed and the swelling has resolved.
Dogs with retained testicles have a much greater risk of developing testicular cancer than do dogs whose testicles both descend normally. In fact, neoplastic tumors occur in roughly 50 percent of undescended testicles – a ten-fold increase over the risk of cancer in non-retained testes. Surgical correction of cryptorchidism should involve removal of both testicles, regardless of their location in the scrotum, inguinal canal or abdomen. With this treatment and appropriate post-operative supportive care, the prognosis for affected dogs is excellent.
Canine Ovariohysterectomy or Spay Surgery
An ovariohysterectomy (spay) is the surgical removal of the female reproductive organs. The operation removes the two ovaries, the uterine horns and the body of the uterus.
This operation is indicated to avoid heat (estrus) cycles, prevent pregnancy, remove diseased or cancerous female reproductive organs and markedly decrease the risk of acquired diseases of the female reproductive system. The spay operation essentially removes the possibility of a severe infection of the uterus (pyometra). There is also evidence that spaying a dog at an early age markedly reduces the future risk of developing mammary (breast) cancer.
Preoperative tests depend in part on the age and general health of the dog. In young dogs, minimal tests are needed provided the pet has been vaccinated, dewormed and proven healthy based on physical examination. Often simple blood tests, such as a packed cell volume or blood count, can be done prior to anesthesia. In older dogs, it would be common to perform a routine blood count and chemistry profile prior to anesthesia. These recommendations vary on a case-by-case basis and depend on the overall health of the dog.
As in a human patient, the procedure in dogs requires general anesthesia to induce complete unconsciousness and relaxation. In the usual case, the dog will receive a pre-anesthetic sedative-analgesic drug to help her relax, a brief intravenous anesthetic to allow placement of a breathing tube in the windpipe, and subsequently inhalation (gas) anesthesia in oxygen during the actual surgery.
Following anesthesia, the dog is placed on a surgical table, lying on her back. The hair is clipped over the middle of the abdomen and the skin is scrubbed with surgical soap to disinfect the area. A sterile drape is placed over the surgical site. A scalpel is used to incise the skin at the middle of the abdomen, and then the abdominal cavity is opened. The organs of the female reproductive tract are identified and the major blood vessels supplying the ovaries and the uterus are ligated (tied off). This must be done before these organs can be removed. Sutures (stitches) that dissolve over time are used to tie off the blood vessels and also to close the uterus above the cervix. Sometime, surgical staples are used in place of sutures. The abdominal incision is then closed with two or three layers of sutures (stitches). The outer layer of skin is closed with skin glue, sutures, or surgical staples; these sutures and staples need to be removed in about 10 to 14 days.
The procedure takes about 45 minutes to an hour to perform in most cases, including the needed time for preparation and anesthesia. In older or large-breed dogs the procedure can take longer and may require two surgeons.
The overall risk of this surgery in a healthy young dog is very low. While there are no published statistics, the risk of death is probably less than 1 in 500. The major risks are those of general anesthesia, bleeding (hemorrhage), postoperative infection and wound breakdown (dehiscence) over the incision. Overall complication rate is low, but serious complications can result in death or the need for additional surgery.
Postoperative medication should be given to relieve pain, which is judged in most cases to be mild to moderate and can be effectively eliminated with safe and effective pain medicines. Generally young dogs are acting normally within 24 to 48 hours and are released one or two days after surgery. It is difficult to determine that they just completed surgery. The home care requires reduced activity until the stitches are removed in 10 to 14 days. The incision line should be inspected daily for signs of redness, discharge, swelling or pain.
The typical stay is one to one day.
Common Surgery For Cats
Feline Castration or Neutering
Neutering and castration are the common terms used to describe the surgical procedure known scientifically as orchidectomy or orchiectomy. In this procedure, both testicles are removed in order to sterilize a male cat.
Neutering is very beneficial to the health of the cat, especially if performed at an early age. Following puberty, which occurs at approximately eight to nine months of age, the male cat often develops a number of undesirable behavioral changes. He will become territorial and start to mark areas, even inside the house, by spraying urine. This urine has a particularly offensive odor and is difficult to remove. As the tomcat reaches sexual maturity, he will start to enlarge his territory, straying ever farther from the house, particularly at night. It is for this reason that many of the cats that are hit by automobiles are non-neutered males. By increasing the size of his territory, he increases the likelihood that he will come into contact with other cats and will get into fights for territorial dominance. Inflicted fight wounds can result in severe infections and abscesses. Diseases such as FIV and FeLV, which can cause AIDS-like syndromes and cancers in cats, are spread through cat bites, these cats are most commonly affected by such incurable diseases. Last, but not least, neutering prevents unwanted litters and the needless deaths of tens of millions kittens and cats each year. The longer a tomcat sprays and fights, the less likely neutering will stop these behaviors.
In most cases, it is recommended to neuter your cat before the onset of puberty. Puberty normally begins between six and ten months of age. The actual age chosen for castration will depend upon the preference of your veterinarian. Many veterinarians recommend castration at around five to seven months of age, although it is becoming more common to perform this procedure at an earlier age, such as two to three months, in an attempt to control overpopulation.
Your cat will undergo a general anesthetic. You will need to withhold food for twelve (12) hours prior to surgery. However, your pet should have free access to water during most of the pre-operative fasting period.
In male cats, both of the testicles are removed through a small incision in the scrotum. Since the incisions are very small, and since stitches may cause irritation of the sensitive skin of the scrotum, it is rare for the incisions to be sutured. Most male cats are discharged the same day as surgery.
In general, complications are rare during castration surgery, however, as with all surgical procedures, there is always a small risk:
It is always possible that any pet could have an adverse reaction following the administration of any drug. Such cases are impossible to predict, but fortunately are extremely rare.
One potential danger arises from the cat not being fasted properly prior to anesthesia. It is essential that all instructions are strictly followed.
In addition, any signs of illness should be reported to your veterinarian prior to an operation.
This may occur internally or around the incision wound. In most cases, the infection can be controlled with antibiotics.
In the vast majority of cases no adverse affects are noted following neutering. In certain cats, notably the Siamese breed, the hair that grows back over an operation site may be noticeably darker, believed to be due to a difference in the skin temperature. This darker patch may grow out with the following molt as the hair is naturally replaced.
Feline Ovariohysterectomy or Spay Surgery
Spaying is the common term used to describe the surgical procedure known scientifically as an ovariohysterectomy. In this procedure, the ovaries and uterus are completely removed in order to sterilize a female cat.
We recommend that all non-breeding cats be sterilized. Here are several health benefits associated with spaying your cat.
- Spaying eliminates the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers.
- Breast cancer is the number one type of cancer diagnosed in intact or un-spayed female cats.
- If your cat is spayed before her first heat cycle, there is less than ½ of 1% (0.5%) chance of developing breast cancer.
- With every subsequent heat cycle, the risk of developing breast cancer increases.
- After 2½ years of age, ovariohysterectomy gives no protective benefit against developing breast cancer.
- Pets with diabetes or epilepsy should be spayed to prevent hormonal changes that may interfere with medications.
The most obvious benefit is the prevention of unplanned pregnancies. There is no medical or scientific reason for letting your cat have a litter before she is spayed.
Once a cat reaches puberty, usually at around seven months of age, she will have a heat or estrus cycle every two to three weeks for most of the year, unless she becomes pregnant. She will be “in heat” or receptive to mating for approximately one week in each cycle. During “heat” she may display unsociable behavior such as loud and persistent crying and frequent rubbing and rolling on the floor. This behavior coupled with her scent, will attract male cats from miles around. Removal of the ovaries will stop her estrus cycles.
Spaying should be performed before the first estrus or “heat cycle”. Most cats are spayed between four and six months of age although some veterinarians choose to spay cats at two to three months of age. It is possible to spay your cat if she is pregnant.
This is a major surgical procedure that requires a full general anesthetic. You will need to fast your cat the night prior to surgery. Most cats return home the day after surgery.
The operation is performed through a relatively small incision made most commonly in the mid-line of the abdomen, just below the umbilicus. Both ovaries are removed along with the entire uterus. The surgical incision will be closed with several layers of sutures. In a few cases, skin sutures will be placed, and these will be removed after seven to ten days.
In general, complications are rare during spaying of cats. However, as with all anesthetic and surgical procedures, there is always a small risk. The potential complications include:
It is possible that any individual animal could have an adverse reaction following the administration of a drug or anesthetic. Such cases are impossible to predict, but are extremely rare. Pre-operative blood work is a useful screening test that may detect pre-existing problems which could interfere with the pet’s ability to handle the anesthetic drugs.
It is important that you properly fast your cat prior to surgery according to your veterinarian’s instructions. In addition, any signs of illness or previous medical conditions should be reported to your veterinarian prior to any sedation, anesthesia or surgery.
This can occur if a ligature around a blood vessel breaks or slips off after the abdomen has been closed. This is very rare, and is more likely to occur if the cat is extremely active. Clinical signs include weakness, pale gums, depression, anorexia or a distended abdomen.
This may occur internally or externally around the incision site. In most cases the infection can be controlled with antibiotics. This most commonly occurs when the cat licks the site excessively or is in a damp environment.
Sinus formation or Suture Reaction:
Although extremely rare, occasionally the body will react to certain types of suture material used during surgery. This results in a draining wound or tract that may appear up to several weeks after the surgery was performed. Often a further operation is required to remove the suture material.
Will spaying have any affect on my cat?
In the vast majority of cats, there are absolutely no adverse affects following spaying. In certain cats, notably the Siamese breed, the hair that grows back over an operation site may be noticeably darker, believed to be due to a difference in the skin temperature. This darker patch may grow out with the following molt as the hair is naturally replaced.
There are many myths and rumors that are not supported by facts or research. Be sure to address any questions or concerns you may have with your veterinarian prior to surgery.
As with any procedure requiring general anesthesia, certain risks may result in serious complications or even death. To minimize such risks, we highly recommend pre-anesthetic blood testing for ALL animals.
All patients receive narcotic pain meds prior to anesthesia. Additional post-surgical pain medication is recommended to help control the discomfort from surgery and aide in recovery.
Pre-anesthetic blood testing assesses liver and kidney function (responsible for metabolizing anesthetic drugs), red blood cells (check for anemia), white blood cells (check for infection) and platelets (affects clotting ability). This can be done on the day of the procedure. Anesthetic drugs and dosages are modified depending on the age, size, and breed of your pet, as well as any pre-existing disease conditions.
While anesthetized, your pet’s heart, breathing, blood oxygenation, body temperature, and depth of anesthesia is monitored at all times by a trained staff member. An IV catheter provides fluids throughout surgery to help maintain blood pressure and aide in recovery for most patients. We use state-of-the-art monitoring and anesthesia equipment to ensure that your pet’s anesthetic procedure is performed as safely as possible.
Recovery occurs in a heated ICU kennel, where your pet is closely monitored as he or she is waking up from anesthesia.
- Check-in time is 7:00-8:00 am on the morning of the procedure (please notify us if this will not work for your schedule)
- Remove all food after 7:00 pm the night before your pet’s procedure, water is fine right up until the time of the procedure
- Administer any scheduled medications (if your pet is on a continuous medication and is spending the night in the hospital, please bring the medications with you for us to give.)
- Read through the Surgical Procedure Information
- Give extra time for your pet to eliminate the morning of the procedure
- Please let us know if your pet is not feeling well
- Allow 20-30 minutes for check-in to answer any questions and sign the paperwork.
- Occasionally we may have questions or concerns while your pet is under anesthesia. Please plan to have a phone number which we can contact you or an authorized agent at any time during the day of the procedure
- We will schedule a pick up time between 3:00pm – 5:00pm at both our Fair Oaks and Citrus Height location.
- Please feel free to check in with us if you have any questions.