Surgery

Surgery

We perform a variety of surgeries at West Valley Animal Hospital, including spays and neuters, bladder stone removal, dental treatments and mass removals.  Our goal is to provide your pet with a safe, successful procedure while minimizing discomfort.

All cats, dogs and rabbits undergoing anesthesia are first screened with blood tests to make sure they have healthy internal organs for processing anesthetics and to discover conditions which might affect the surgical procedure itself.
The veterinarian performs a pre-surgical exam of your pet the morning of surgery prior to administering any anesthetics or pain medications.  Cats and dogs have their blood pressure checked by the nurses.  After sedation, the nurses then place an intravenous catheter, usually in a front leg, to serve as a portal for fluids plus anesthetic and emergency drugs.  All cats and dogs are placed on IV fluids to support their blood pressure, help their organs process the drugs and keep them hydrated.  The next step is to give IV anesthetic drugs to relax your pet to enable passage of a tube in his windpipe for delivery of anesthetic gas and oxygen.  He will then have monitors attached to track his blood levels of oxygen and his heart rate and rhythm.  Most importantly, though, your pet will be closely  observed by a licensed veterinary nurse to be sure his anesthesia is delivered in the safest possible way.  The doctor will perform the surgical procedure and call you with an update after its completion.  The nurses will continue to monitor your pet throughout the day and be responsible for ensuring that you understand all aftercare and medications when they send him home at his discharge appointment.  We encourage you to make sure we answer all of your questions and concerns about your pet’s anesthesia and procedure.

Please explore the following links for more information about anesthesia and surgery:

The Risk of Anesthesia to Pets
Demystifying general anesthesia
Demystifying general anesthesia Part II
Feline Anesthesia
Pain Management in Pets

We schedule surgery for Mondays and Thursdays.  Your pet will be admitted to the hospital the morning of surgery between 8:15am and 9:00am or, for your convenience, you can bring him in on Wednesday before 5pm for a Thursday surgery at no extra charge.  Discharge times vary according to the procedure. Your pet will be discharged during appointment with the nurse  Should your pet have a problem requiring a surgical specialist, we will refer you to a Board Certified Surgeon in our area.

Spay and Castration Procedures

Neutering procedures (spays and castrations) are among the most common procedures performed on pets.  We carry them out to prevent pet overpopulation, reduce or prevent undesirable behaviors and improve health.

Please browse the links below to review the benefits of neutering your pet:

Neutering to Improve Health and Behavior
Feline Neutering
Spaying to Prevent Breast Cancer
Female Reproduction: What Could Go Wrong?

While a neuter surgery, for most pets, is less risky than developing health problems related to sex hormones, such as breast cancer, uterine infections and prostate infections, any anesthetic and surgical procedure carries some risk.  Neuters are completed successfully so frequently we have a tendency to consider them “routine”, which to some pet owners sounds like “risk-free”.  While the risk may be low, complications happening to your pet are 100% important.  The best way to minimize complications is to have the procedure performed by your pet’s veterinarian in a full-service veterinary hospital, monitored by licensed veterinary nurses according to current medical standards of care for safety including the protection provided by state-of-the-art monitoring equipment, IV catheters, fluid therapy and great nursing and veterinary care throughout your pet’s procedure and recovery.

West Valley Animal Hospital does participate in a discounted spay and neuter program in association with the Lehigh County Humane Society.  While we strongly believe your pet’s veterinarian provides the best care and protection for your pet’s surgical procedure, we have committed to this discounted program as a way of providing an affordable option for those pet owners who would otherwise not be able to afford to neuter their pets.  Pet owners taking advantage of this program need to be aware that the protections provided their pets during surgery are more limited than those in place at their primary care veterinary facility.

 

“Low Cost” Spay/Neuter Programs

Over the past decade, many spay/neuter clinics have opened as a way of addressing the pet overpopulation problem in our country.  As the availability of these services has increased, many people are wondering what the differences are between having their pet’s surgery at a “low cost” clinic as opposed to their regular veterinary clinic, and why these clinics are able to offer the surgery so cheaply.

At West Valley Animal Hospital, we take all available precautions to ensure that your pet’s spay or neuter is safe and pain-free.  Every patient has a pre-surgical physical exam performed by a  veterinarian, and bloodwork is run to assess the pet’s internal organ function and red blood cell levels. An IV catheter is placed in a leg vein and used to deliver fluids and medications during the surgery.  This helps to support the patient’s blood pressure and circulation.  Each pet under anesthesia is individually monitored by a certified veterinary nurse and their pulse, temperature, blood oxygen levels, and ECG are monitored throughout the procedure.  This close observation is continued during the recovery period to  ensure that the pet wakes up fully and is stable and comfortable before being discharged to the owner.  Medication is provided for post-surgical pain control and the veterinarian and office staff are available following the procedure should any problems or complications arise.  These are treated often at little or no additional cost to the owner.

Low-cost clinics which are not full service veterinary hospitals must omit many of these precautions in order to keep their prices low.  Bloodwork is typically not done, and when it is done there is usually an additional charge. IV catheters are not used which makes it more difficult to administer medications if an emergency arises.  Many programs are staffed by volunteers, meaning that supervision of pets under anesthesia is often the responsibility of people with little to no formal medical training.  They rely on having a high volume of surgeries to support their discount to the community and are unable to provide individual attention to each pet. Because there are typically few workers and many animals being operated on each day, each worker must supervise multiple pets, making it easy to miss the early signs of anesthetic complications.  Monitoring of patients is often minimal as blood pressure, pulse oximetry, and ECG equipment is expensive to obtain and maintain.  Patients are often discharged to the owners shortly following their surgery and many times pain medication is not given.  If a pet has problems following the surgery, it usually must be taken to an existing vet clinic or emergency for follow-up care, which can end up being much more expensive than the initial surgery itself.

An important reason why “low cost” clinics are able to offer a spay or neuter so cheaply is that they have much lower expenses than a regular veterinary hospital.  They usually have a small number of staff, many of whom volunteer their time.  They only need to stock a limited number of medications, supplies, and monitoring equipment and they often receive special discounts on supplies from vendors due to their non-profit status.  They may receive donations of money and supplies.  Additionally, because they are non-profit organizations, they are exempt from many taxes that full-service vet clinics must pay.

So why not use a low-cost clinic?  First and foremost, it is in your pet’s best interest to have the surgery done at a full-service hospital.  Surgery and anesthesia always carry a risk, and the testing and monitoring done by hospitals like ours help to minimize these risks.   “Low cost” clinics fill an important role in helping the less fortunate animals in our community, but in keeping their costs low they cannot afford to offer the same level of service and attention to the health and safety of your pet that we offer you and your pet at West Valley Animal Hospital.


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