What to expect with your pet's spay or neuter surgery

What to expect with your pet's spay or neuter surgery

Even though a canine or feline spay or neuter seems like routine surgery, these are actually major procedures. Each of these types of surgery requires general anesthesia and there is always a potential for complications. If they practice high-quality medicine, a veterinarian’s goal is to minimize these complications – a 99-percent success rate is not good enough for the other 1 percent of pets.

First, an examination is done prior to surgery to see if there is anything obviously wrong with your pet that could cause problems during the procedure. Then a pre-anesthetic blood panel (consisting of a complete blood count and chemistry panel) is performed to make sure that there is no evidence of kidney, liver, pancreas or infectious problems that could lead to complications. Some veterinarians will perform a urinalysis, X-ray and/or other blood tests as well, especially if the pet is older or has other pre-existing problems.

Next, an intravenous catheter is placed so your pet can receive IV fluids during surgery to support his/her circulation and administer continuous pain medications (which are mixed into the fluids). continuous pain medications (which are mixed into the fluids). This helps prevent problems like kidney failure and heart complications and makes for a much smoother anesthesia. It also provides intravenous access in case anything should go wrong during surgery. Then your pet is neutered, preferably using a surgical laser to reduce pain, swelling and bleeding. A gas anesthesia and oxygen combination is used during surgery, and your pet is positioned on a heating device such as a heating blanket so recovery goes as smoothly as possible. A surgical monitor is routinely utilized to observe heart rate and rhythm, blood oxygen level, respiration and body temperature.

When surgery is over your pet recovers in a heated ICU unit or padded cage (depending on their size) and they are watched closely until they are completely awake. When they are sent home they get more pain medications for the next few days to help their recovery be as comfortable as possible.

Even if the costs at a high-quality veterinary clinic for the spay and neuter procedures are similar to those at other local veterinarians, many of them will not do IV fluids and/or blood work or will consider these procedures to be optional. For these reasons, it’s difficult to compare prices between clinics unless the clinics in question have identical procedures in their estimates. So when a person calls around to compare prices, it is critical to ask about pre-operative blood work, IV catheter and fluids, and laser surgery.


About this Angie’s List Expert: Dr.Niklos Weber is a double board-certified specialist in avian practice and canine and feline practice. He has been a veterinarian since 1995 and has owned Whispering Pines Pet Clinic in Magalia, Calif., since 2006.

As of March 11, 2013, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.


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