Feline Spay (ovariohysterectomy) and Declaw
Declaw patients stay with us for two nights. This allows us to monitor their progress post-surgery and administer appropriate pain relief.
Admit: Each pet has a specified time the morning of surgery for a technician to go over the surgery and estimate with the owner. At this time we discuss the different options owners have. For cats over 9 years old and dogs over 7 years old we require pre-anesthetic bloodwork and an IV catheter/fluids for surgical procedures. For pet’s under those age requirements we don’t require it, but we still recommend it.
Pre-anesthetic bloodwork: Even pets appearing healthy can have significant kidney or liver disease which limits their ability to handle some anesthetics. Testing helps us evaluate the health of your pet’s organs so we can alter anesthetic protocol if necessary and, therefore, reduce anesthetic risks.
IV catheter/fluids: An intravenous catheter allows us immediate venous access if an emergency situation should arise while your pet is under anesthesia. In addition, providing fluid therapy during anesthesia helps to maintain your pet’s blood pressure, helps their organs clear the anesthetic drug and contributes to a quicker, smoother recovery.
Every pet gets a pre-surgical exam the morning of surgery. At this time the doctor does a complete physical to make sure the pet is healthy enough to receive anesthesia. They also look to make sure there are no retained deciduous (baby) teeth, no fleas, ear or skin problems.
Each pet is given a pre-anesthetic injection about 10 minutes before the surgery. This injection typically contains a small amount of sedative and a narcotic pain reliever depending on the species and procedure. The purpose of this injection is two fold: to give pre-emptive pain medicine, as well as, make them a little sleepy so less gas anesthesia is needed during the procedure.
Each pet is given an injectable form of anesthesia intravenously to induce unconsciousness so that we can intubate them and start gas anesthesia.
We typically use a ketamine/valium combination for our injectable anesthetic, however, when indicated we do have Propofol. We do not use barbiturates (pentothal) which are very depressive to cardiac output and often impact the patient throughout the day.
Animals are unable to blink while under anesthesia so we use artificial tears ointment to keep their eyes well lubricated during the surgery.
Intubating allows us to administer the gas anesthesia (isoflurane) along with oxygen at a controlled rate to keep them asleep for the entire procedure.
As soon as the pet is intubated and hooked up to the anesthesia machine we put a pulse-ox probe on their tongue to measure their oxygen saturation and heart rate.
The surgical site is shaved to keep the hair from entering the sterile filed during surgery.
All females getting spayed get a spay tattoo (a female symbol with an "X" in the center). This ensures that in the future anyone that looks at their abdomen can tell quickly that they have been spayed.
The surgical site is scrubbed with an antiseptic scrub then wiped with alcohol saturated gauze. This is done a total of three times to ensure the surgical site is clean.
Animals are prepared in our treatment room then moved to the surgical suite. This helps keep the surgical suite as clean as possible.
The pet is moved to the surgical suite and placed on their back on the heated surgical table. At this time they are hooked up to our larger Surgi-Vet monitor. This machine allows us to monitor their heart rate, EKG, oxygen and carbon dioxide saturation, as well as, blood pressure. During the entire procedure one licensed veterinary technician's only job is to make sure the pet's vital signs all stay within normal limits.
A new sterile surgical pack is used for each procedure.
A feline spay starts with a single incision along the mid-line of the abdomen called the linea alba. The pedicles and stump of the uterus are doubly ligated with gut sutures and then the uterus is removed. The linea is closed with continuous and simple interrupted sutures of monosorb. Subcutaneous and skin closure is performed with a continuous pattern of monosorb, followed by a small amount of surgical glue. All sutures are absorbable and will not need to be removed.
After the spay is complete, the cat is placed on their right side and both front paws are prepared for the declaw with alcohol. A local ringblock of lidocaine/marcaine is then injected around each wrist to block the nerves going to the front paws so they are pain free when they wake up. This injection is similar to the one we get at the dentist's office when getting a cavity filled.
A tourniquet is placed just behind the elbow to decrease bloodflow to the lower leg and decrease bleeding during the procedure. The declaw was performed using Resco trimmers and guillotine technique. Each incision is then closed using surgical glue.
A pressure bandage is applied to the foot and kept on until the next morning. The other foot is then done the same way.
When the surgery is almost complete the gas anesthesia is turned off. The effects of it last until the procedure is complete. The pet is kept on oxygen alone until they start to blink.
That evening, declaw patients are given an intramuscular injection of buprenex and an oral dose of metacam for pain. The metacam is given orally once a day for 3 doses. We typically give the last dose prior to them leaving.
Once they are blinking the pet is brought to their recovery cage to continue waking up. In the cage we have a hot water blanket and a towel to wrap them in to keep them warm. The endotracheal tube stays in until they are able to swallow.
All declaw patients get Yesterday's News cat litter during the healing process. The fine granular cat litter can get into their declaw incision and cause infection, therefore, we recommend using a pellet type litter for the first 4-5 days post-surgery.
On their second day here we continue to monitor their feet and give them lots of love.
After surgery a technician enters all of the notes associated with that surgery into the computer (we only use computer records, we do not have paper records anymore) and update the charges. Each owner will receive a copy of the notes at discharge time.
The following day they are discharged from the hospital. Each discharge is for a scheduled period of time so that a technician can go over all of the written instructions and answer any questions the owner might have.