Surgery FAQ

surgeryWhat is a board-certified veterinary surgeon? (from the ACVS website)

The term “ACVS Diplomate” refers to a veterinarian who has been board certified in veterinary surgery. Only veterinarians who have successfully completed the certification requirements of the ACVS are Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and have earned the right to be called specialists in veterinary surgery. Veterinarians wishing to become board certified must complete a three-year residency program, meet specific training and caseload requirements, perform research and have their research published. This process is supervised by current ACVS Diplomates, ensuring consistency in training and adherence to high standards. Once the residency has been completed, the resident must sit for and pass a rigorous examination. Only then does the veterinarian earn the title of ACVS Diplomate.

Do I need a surgeon who is board certified? (from the ACVS website)

Advances in animal health care have led to a wider variety of treatment options, including highly specialized surgical procedures. Board certified surgeons spend at least four years after achieving their veterinary medical degree (DVM) focusing strictly on surgery. This concentrated training in surgery allows the ACVS Veterinary Surgeon to keep current with frequent advances in veterinary medicine. Ask your veterinarian if the procedure requires a specialist. General procedures may be less likely to require someone who is board certified.

Does a consultation always lead to surgery?

During your initial consultation, the veterinary surgeon will review your pet’s clinical history, previous test results and treatments, and the clinical course of your pet’s disease. The surgeon will then perform a thorough physical exam of your pet. Following this review, the surgeon will make recommendations. The recommendation may be to proceed directly with surgery but may also include additional diagnostic tests, medical treatment regimens, or a wait-and-watch approach. Occasionally surgery is not the best immediate or long-term option for your pet based on the comparative risks and expected benefits. Your consultation with the veterinary surgical specialist is the most comprehensive way to make this assessment. Your pet will not proceed to surgery until both you and the surgeon are comfortable with the recommended treatment plan.

How is surgical pain managed?

Our practice philosophy is to minimize distress associated with care and treatment of your pet.

This includes the use of surgical methods designed to maximize the beneficial effect of surgery with the least possible morbidity and invasion of normal tissues. Examples include the use of arthroscopy, laparoscopy, radiograph-guided procedures, alternative materials (such as titanium), and alternative techniques (such as TTA and ALPS fracture fixation).

Even with these lower morbidity methods, some degree of inflammation and discomfort is expected. We treat anticipated surgical pain preemptively by using multimodal perioperative analgesia. This often includes the use of epidural analgesia and anesthesia. The epidural injection is done while your pet is under general anesthesia prior to the start of the surgical procedure and aids reduction of the required depth of general anesthesia (and associated depth-related anesthetic risks).  In addition, the effect of the epidural injection may reduce post-surgical pain up to 24 hours after the procedure thus limiting pain “wind-up”.

Post-surgical pain and any distress are managed 24 hours per day by doctors in the hospital who are well versed in analgesic and sedative protocols.

At the time of your pet’s discharge from the hospital you will receive post-operative instructions describing signs of pain or discomfort and explaining treatment options, including pain medications and indicated complementary therapies such as icing and massage.

What is the typical recovery time for my pet following surgery?

The time expected for your pet to recover from surgery will vary significantly based on its specific disease or injury, the surgery performed, and other potential complicating factors such as pre-existing osteoarthritis or endocrine disorders (e.g. diabetes, Cushing’s disease). These expectations will be specifically discussed at the time of your initial surgical consultation and will be further discussed at the time of patient discharge.

Most perioperative surgical inflammation and its associated swelling, bruising, and discomfort will improve rapidly in the first post-operative week.

Healing from orthopedic procedures may take several weeks, and full return of function may occur over several months depending on the disease or injury, the procedure, and post-surgical rehabilitation.

If at any time your pet does not seem to be recovering at the rate or to the degree expected, please call us or recheck for an evaluation.

What restrictions will be placed on my pet during the recovery period?

Typically surgical incisions will heal in one to two weeks. During this time, you may be instructed to prevent your pet from chewing or licking the incision by using a bandage or a restrictive collar. This is usually the surest way to reduce the risk of post-surgical incision infection or dehiscence (opening of the surgical wound).

Post-surgery confinement of your pet, either in a kennel or in a small room, may be required when your pet is not under your direct supervision.  This confinement may be necessary to allow the appropriate healing of the surgical repair.

Who takes care of my pet overnight following surgery?

Most patients that require surgery stay overnight and can go home once they are ready the next day. Some surgeries may require a few days of post-operative hospitalization. The surgeon will advise you prior to surgery how long to expect your pet to be hospitalized. While hospitalized, your pet will receive 24-hour care from the Boundary Bay Veterinary Specialists and Animal Emergency Clinic of the Fraser Valley veterinarians.

What should I expect at my pet’s surgery consultation?

Please see “Surgery appointment FAQ