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Each year America dedicates the month of February as Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. Over the past decade veterinarian, shelters, and animal organizations have been educating the public about why spaying and neutering your pets will help improve their life.
At Tender Touch Veterinary Care, we offer both spaying and neutering to our clients. We recommend either surgery to be done any time between 6 to 9 months of age to help improve your pets life. For more information about why spaying and neutering is an important heath choice for your pet, please click on the following links:
Both the spay and neuter are routine surgeries in which Doctor Sue Fluhr has performed hundreds of times. While there are risks with any type of surgery, we perform a few necessities to avoid such complications. One is that we require all patients to have a pre-operative blood panel and a complete blood cell count prior to any surgery. The results will allow us to make an education decision on which medications your pet will handle best and it will also give us insight to any underlying diseases or illnesses.
When we are ready for surgery, your pet will have an intravenous catheter place in their leg. We do this for 2 reasons: to give intravenous fluids and allow easy access to a vein for administrating medications. Intravenous fluids are given throughout the surgery and is kept in until they are fully awake. We use a fluid solution called Lactated Ringers Solution which will keep them hydrated during surgery and post surgery. Another reason we use IV fluids during surgery is because it helps keep the animals blood pressure up. This can be very helpful when a surgery is long that way we don't have to use another medication to counteract the effect of low blood pressure.
Another precaution we take at Tender Touch Veterinary Clinic, is by using smaller amounts of multiple different drugs instead of using a larger dose of one drug. With one drug at a larger volume, we are increasing the chances of seeing the more dangerous side-effects (like kidney or liver damage). Though if we use one drug at a smaller dose we are less likely to see those risky side-effects. However due to the smaller volume, we would not achieve the desired affect we are seeking (like sedation). So that is why we use multiple drugs at smaller doses, that way we can use the smaller volumes in each of the medications and still get the desirable effects (sedation or pain relief). In addition, some of the medication combination can counteract the smaller less dangerous side-effect we may see. For instances, Ketamine (a dissociative drug) can cause muscle rigidity. Therefore, we use Diazepam which is a muscle relaxer to counteract the muscle rigidity commonly caused by ketamine. This way we can manipulate the patient's body into certain positions for either surgery or even radiographs. Overall, it is best to use a bunch of little volumes than to just use one large volume.
An additional concern during surgery is a low body temperature which is caused by the oxygen and inhalant gas mixture plus the intravenous fluids. The standard for recovery is to have the temperature above 98 degrees Fahrenheit. A lower body temperature can make recovery difficult and prolonged. So to counteract this effect, we use multiple sources of heat to keep your pet warm. Some resources we use are: a warm air blower attached to blanket which constantly circulates heat, towels, warmed rice socks, placing the intravenous line under a rice sock to warm the IV fluids, and we also place a recovery blanket in the drier prior to recovery so they have something to keep them warm post surgery.
With any type of surgery or dental, 2 people are always with your pet at all times. The surgeon (Dr. Sue Fluhr) is the veterinarian performing the surgery and then the other is the assistant, who is monitoring your pets vitals throughout surgery. Even post surgery, your pet will be monitored as they recovery from the surgery and anesthesia. For the surgery, 3 spots are shaved on your pet. One is where the IV catheter is placed, usually on the front leg but sometimes it can be in the rear leg. The second shaved spot is above the paw pad on the rear leg so that we can attach the Doppler. This will allow us to get an audible heartbeat so both the assistant and Dr. Sue can hear it. The last spot is where the incision is made. With female dogs and cats, the abdomen is shaved with a larger margin since it is an invasion procedure. And with male dogs, a smaller incision is done so the area that needs to be shaved doesn't have to be as large as with the female. The area shave is located between the base of the penis and the scrotum. Finally with male cats, we do not shave at all but actually pluck the hair from the scrotum so that a small incision can be made in scrotum.
To prepare for surgery, our clinic requires that all animal should be fasted 12 hours prior to surgery. This basically means that they cannot have any food (including treats) after 8 p.m. the night before. This is because some medication can cause nausea in the animals which can make them vomit. To counteract this though, we use an endotracheal tubes with an inflatable cuff. When the endotracheal tube is placed in the trachea for breathing, the cuff is inflated to create a barrier just in case your pet vomited or regurgitated when on the surgery table. So if your pet did happen to eat the berries from bush in the back without your knowledge, the vomit will still come up from the stomach but your pet will not aspirated the fluid into the lungs due to cuff being inflated. Overall, this just protects them from getting pneumonia post surgery. Your animal can have water up to the point they arrive at the clinic.
The day of surgery, you can drop your pet off anywhere between 8 and 8:30 A.M. Please leave yourself plenty of time in the morning because we need you to fill out some forms like consent to perform the surgery. We will perform a physical exam the day of surgery to ensure they are healthy enough. Also if you have any other concern about your pet like dirty ears or mysterious lump, just let us know during check in so that we can take a look at it. Sometimes younger animal can have a herniated umbilical cord, which we can also remove during their spay or neuter surgery. Also on the plus side, during the surgery we will do a complementary nail trim on all our patients since it is less stressful for them when they are not aware of it. We will also give you the option of microchipping your pet for $46.00. The microchip is a small barcode that is inserted between the shoulder blades. Your information then will be entered into a database that will contain your name, address, and number. The microchip is a safety measure for your pet just in case they ever get lost or run away. All shelters will scan your pet when they enter the facility and will contact you if they are entered in the database. Shelters are require to hold an animal for 7 days in the state of Wisconsin, after that the shelter owns them and are legally able to adopt them out. So the microchip can be life save when looking for your pet.
Once the surgery is completed and your pet is stable post-surgery, Dr. Sue or one of the staff members will call to update you on the status of your pet. Any question you have at the time can be asked, otherwise we will go over post-surgery instruction at time of pick up. Animals can be picked up around 4 to 5 P.M. but we will verify the time when they get out of surgery. All patients will get pain medication post surgery once they are awake enough and then they will also get medication for when at home. The medication we send home are pain reliever and/or anti-inflammatory. The bottles will have labels on them giving directions. Please read them each time before using, some medications require food to be given with them. We will also over the medication prior to leaving the clinic.
So you are aware, due to the anesthesia some pets will not eat the first night they are home because the anesthesia can make them nausea. You can offer food but we recommend to offer a little at a time just in case they scarf it down which can make them vomit. Like I said before, some medications require food in the stomach. The medication doesn't require a whole meal in order to be given, it can be as simple as a handful of treats. You can offer water as soon as they get home but don't worry if they don't drink for the first night since we gave them IV fluids. By the second day though please encourage them to both eat and drink especially in younger animal and little dogs to keep their blood sugar up to normal levels.
Also due to the anesthesia, they can still be wobbly at time of pick up. We can help assist with getting them into your car and suggest having someone at home to help assist getting them out of car (especially with larger breed dogs). Take extra caution around stairs since they can fall due to the mediation. On another note, beware of your pets around your children because they can be experiencing pain and they may not be acting like themselves due the drugs we use (example: a dog that normally doesn't bite could bite a child). For the first night home, we suggest that you be present to watch them. Some pain can be expected with any surgery and they may be sensitive to certain movement. However if they excessively vocal or in pain, you can give us a call that night or the following morning if you are concerned. We rather have you call us a hundred times than to not call and have something go wrong.
With both spays and canine neuter, dissolving suture is used to close the incision. If for some reason we cannot use dissolving suture (like reaction to suture), the suture will be remove 10 to 14 days. For two weeks post surgery, your pet should not have excess activity like walks, running, jumping, or playing. It is especially important for the first week post surgery that all potty breaks are done with a leash on them so your pet won't break open their incision by going off running or chasing a squirrel. It may be require to create hyperactive dogs and maybe separate them from your other dogs to not tempt them into playing.
In addition, they can have no contact with water (swimming or bathing) for those two weeks because it can speed up the process of the sutures dissolving. Also your pet should not lick the incision area, especially dogs since they could possibly eat their intestines if they break open their incision or loosen the suture. Plus licking can cause bacteria to get into the incision and can lead to an infection which will delay the healing process. If you know your pet is a licker, let us know at time of check-in so we can have the "cone of shame" (E-collar) or our daisy collar (soft E-collar) ready for them. This does cost extra and would not have be include in the original estimate for the spay/neuter surgery since not all patients need them. For small dogs, we do give the option of using a onesie (baby clothes) to protect the incision. They look adorable in them and they do the job of prevent infection. They don't have to be new cloths, you can just go to a thrift store and buy a couple outfits. While at our clinic, we will observe them to see if they lick their incision at all. If they are, we will put a cone on them and at the time of pick up we will inform you about it.
If you have questions at any time about the above information or any other concerns, you can contact us via telephone (262-297-1774) or by appointment. We do recommend when planning for your spay or neuter surgery that you plan around any busy time of your life (like family vacations) In addition, it would be best to schedule your surgery as soon as possible because the surgery schedule is usually book 3 to 4 weeks out.