ALL our surgical procedures have been performed using a state of the art CO2 surgical laser since it was purchased in 2003. That gives us a distinct sheer numbers advantage over other animal hospitals, including specialty hospitals, as far as experience in the use and application of the surgical laser. The advantage of the laser to your pet is that it seals blood vessles, lymphatics and nerve endings, so there is substantially, less bleeding, less swelling and less pain. Complex procedures such as soft palate resections (bulldogs, pugs and other short nose, brachycephalic, breeds), small nasal passages/stenotic nares, repair (in same breeds) can successfully be done with the laser with considerably more ease and less complications than when done the traditional way. The use of laser results in a clear, bloodless surgical field and a significantly more comfortable recovery for your pet. Due to sealing properties of the laser there is less seeding of tumor cells into the surrounding normal tissues during the surgery so many tumors will never recur or the time from excision to recurrence of tumors that cannot be completely excised is significantly lengthened. Procedures that are normally very painful such as digit amputations, gum ablation, tail docking are the ones where we have seen the most drastic difference in the degree of post surgical comfort in our patients.
Although we use our laser for absolutely all surgical procedures, we still use diligent pain management in all our patients so you can be sure that whatever the procedure, we will make it relatively painless.
Your pet’s day starts with a few questions for you from our technician upon admission to make sure your pet has been fasted since the evening before the procedure and that there are no health concerns. No food and water in the stomach will minimize the chances that your pet will vomit during anesthesia which could lead to aspiration of vomit into the lungs, a serious, unnecessary and very unfortunate complication of anesthesia.
If all is well (and your pet is not a short nose breed or a grey hound) your pet will get a cocktail of drugs that will not only help sedate and relax them but also acts as a potent pain killer. The most commonly used drug for this, hydromorphone, also has the advantage that it makes animals vomit when given as an injection in the muscle, so if an owner thought they had fasted the pet but someone fed him by mistake, it will effectively empty the stomach. This side effect of the drug is used to our advantage here but it is not a wanted side effect in the short nose breeds (bull dogs, pugs, bostons, shih Tzu,s etc) as they can choke and aspirate on their vomit more easily. These breeds get a another pain/sedative combination which does not cause vomiting but affords good pain control and relaxation.
Healthy cats are usually pre-medicated and ready for intubation with one all-in-one cocktail we like to call ‘kitty magic”
After about 15 minutes your pet will be comfortably relaxed and our trained technicians will then put an intravenous catheter in the front leg, inject the induction drugs to get your pet to go to sleep and then gently place a breathing tube down into the windpipe. This is then connected to the gas anesthesia machine and the animal will be taken to a plane of surgical anesthesia which means no consciousness and no pain.
One technician is assigned to your pet for the entire time from induction of anesthesia to recovery and will be monitoring your pets vital signs and recording these every 5 minutes throughout the procedure. She will communicate with the doctor about the condition of our pet throughout the entire procedure. This is very important as most anesthesia problems occur due to lack of careful monitoring or the technician multi tasking and not paying attention to the pet which is absolutely not allowed at The Family Pet Hospital.
The other technician will prepare the surgical site by shaving the fur close to the skin and scrubbing the area with surgical scrub to disinfect the surface so we do not drag bugs from the skin into deeper tissues.
Then your pet is gently moved into our sterile surgical suite and placed on a table with a warm water circulating blanket to help maintain the body temperature in the normal range. Here our skilled doctors will perform surgery using the CO2 laser. In case of dental procedures, the pet stays right on our treatment room sink where we started, and digital dental radiographs will be taken first. These dental patients will be kept warm with our “Bear Hugger” pet warming system while the teeth are professionally cleaned and any needed dental surgery or extractions are performed using bupivacaine dental nerve blocks, like you would get at your dentist, for pain control.
After surgery is completed, the technician will take your pet to its recovery cage and blanket and stay with them until they are able to swallow and pick up their heads, at which point the breathing tube will be removed. The technician and the doctor will continue to monitor the pet through out the day for any signs of pain and extra pain medication will be used as needed.
Your pet will be able to go home any time between 4-6 pm that same evening, depending on when they got out of surgery. We do not keep pets in the hospital because there is no one to monitor them over night. At home you can watch them closely and as a client of the Family Pet Hospital you should have our emergency number, Dr. Valas’ cell number to call should you have any concerns. (If you do not have this number please ask for it as it should have been given to you on your very first visit and it is not public so you need the magnet from the front desk – CLIENTS ONLY have this privilege)
If you are not a client and your hospital requires that your pet stay over night after a procedure, I would encourage you to ask if they have someone monitoring their patients over night and if not demand to take them home as it is just simply not safe for your pet to be alone over night. Then, if something is not right with your pet during the night, you can always take them to your nearest 24 hour emergency clinic which could save their life in the event of a real albeit very rare post surgical complication.
Pickles above is making sure our patient is comfortable and ready to go home and is our version of the volunteer Candy Striper service :)!!
Your pet may be groggy the first 24 hours but will be much better after that. In fact, some pets are too quick to feel great after laser surgery and you will really need to do your part to keep them quiet, leash walk them, and not let them do too much for at least 7-10 days after the surgery to prevent any post surgical bleeding, swelling or wound opening which can be uncomfortable and require further care and expense. You also need to look at the incision daily and keep it clean. If your pet is licking, it will need to wear a t-shirt or pants or may have to be fitted with an E-Collar (aka ‘the cone of shame’)!!!!. If there is any heat, pain or discharge, you should bring your pet back in for a technician or doctor to take a peek rather than try to guess over the phone at what could or could not be going on. We NEVER charge for post surgical visits so it is simply the safest route to take when in doubt.
So hopefully, you can see that we have got it all under control, that you have nothing to worry about because your pet is in excellent, caring and competent hands when he or she is with us. As our name implies, your pet really is a part of our family and will be treated as such!
We will happy to answer any questions you may have, so feel free to contact us.