In these challenging economic times, pet owners want to maximize the value for the medical dollars that they spend. However, if you don’t know how different veterinary hospitals are organized, you may be comparing apples to oranges when you price shop. In addition, you could be placing the health of your cherished companion at risk without even realizing it.
A spay or ovariohysterectomy surgery is considered common practice in the veterinary field. Traditionally, this surgery involves removing the ovaries and uterus in a female dog or cat. This procedure has multiple health benefits that range from reducing the risk of cancer and infection, decreasing aggression/fighting, decreasing roaming, to helping reduce pet overpopulation.
Just because this is a frequently practiced surgery doesn’t mean that it is always routine. Complications can occur for a variety of reasons such as the patient being in heat, obesity, organ disease, poor body condition, illness, clotting problems, and others. Any time an animal undergoes anesthesia there are risks. This surgery after all does involve opening up the abdominal cavity unless it is done laproscopically, which is still not very common in our industry.
Many problems can be avoided or significantly lessened by performing a blood panel prior to anesthesia; providing intravenous fluids before, during, and after the procedure; monitoring vitals during and after surgery; keeping the patient warm; giving antibiotics; keeping the patient hospitalized overnight; providing good levels of pain medication; providing an Elizabethan collar; providing sedation after surgery when needed; having the client restrict activity post-surgically; etc.
If blood work is not performed prior to surgery, organ problems, anemia, coagulation issues, and other significant health problems can be missed. These are issues that are often not identifiable on the physical exam. Many patients that appear physically healthy can have abnormal blood values. If you don’t check, you don’t know. According to Idexx, an internationally recognized veterinary laboratory, 1 in 10 patients will have abnormalities on pre-anesthetic blood work. You wouldn’t go under general anesthesia without having these values checked; and yet, a high percentage of veterinary clinics do not require or offer this for surgery.
Intravenous fluids provide support to the kidney, liver, and heart during and after surgery. They speed up recovery by helping the body to metabolize more quickly. Fluids also help to compensate for pre-surgical dehydration. It also provides a site to administer emergency drugs if needed. It is also a way to give other medications such as antibiotics. A person would never undergo abdominal surgery without this; and yet, a high percentage of veterinary clinics do not require or offer this for surgery.
The next time your pet has to undergo anesthesia for any reason, please realize that the choice you make for your cherished companion can be life altering. Most of the time it is much better to delay a procedure for a short amount of time if it allows you to provide a higher level of care that includes blood work, intravenous fluids, etc. Make sure that when you are price comparing, you take into account the level of care. Your canines and felines are depending on you.