As in human medicine, there are two types of surgery in veterinary medicine, soft tissue and orthopedic surgery. Soft tissue surgery is a very broad category involving head and neck surgery, cardiovascular (heart), pulmonary (lung), gastrointestinal (stomach, intestine, liver, pancreas), and urogenital (kidneys and bladder). The conditions in each category may be either congenital (from birth) or acquired. Acquired disorders are those not related to hereditary or birth defects, and include traumas, infection and cancer.
Orthopedic surgery involves bones, joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Fractured bones and torn ligaments are some of the most common injuries seen by surgeons. They also can see more subtle, chronic injuries that can be difficult to diagnose and frustrating to the pet owner. Sporting dogs, like human athletes, may acquire these injuries that though not debilitating, can decrease their performance in a favorite sport. A thorough orthopedic exam, radiographs (xrays), and specialized procedures may be required to make the diagnosis.
Not all orthopedic problems are the result of injury. Many pets are born with conditions that cause lameness. There are many surgeries to help pets with these conditions, such as knee repair and hip replacement, just as in human medicine. Our veterinarians may refer you to our colleagues at Portland Veterinary Specialists for advanced imaging such as CT scan or other high-tech procedures performed by board certified veterinary specialists. Some of these diagnostic tests may include tendon ultrasound, arthroscopy, stem cell therapy or reconstructive surgery.
Spaying or Neutering Your Pet
Most pet owners are aware that veterinarians and many animal advocates recommend spaying and neutering of domestic dogs and cats. Often times, however, many people are only aware of one reason to do so: population control. While this is one of the most important, your pet’s health is also another reason to do so.
A spay, or ovariohysterectomy performed in female dogs or cats removes the entire uterus and ovaries. Although it is thought of as a “routine” procedure, it is abdominal surgery and does require recovery and healing time for your pet. This surgery negates the possibility of cancer in these organs as well as the possibility of uterine infection known as pyometra. Pyometra is a commonly diagnosed emergency in older unspayed dogs and unfortunately, it is often necessary to correct the infection surgically, at great risk to the pet, and financial burden to the owner.
A neuter, or castration performed in male dogs and cats removes the testicles. Neutering of males decreases unpleasant marking and mounting/dominance behaviors, as well as the tendency to roam from home. In dogs, neutering also greatly decreases the incidence of benign prostatic hypertrophy, a very common condition of intact male dogs which is treated in animals by neutering. Since the testicles are removed when the neutering procedure is performed, cancer of these organs is prevented.
As in human medicine, when to perform the procedures above can depend on many factors, including the age, sex, weight or breed of your pet. We recommend that you talk with your veterinarian about when it is the right time for you to spay or neuter your pet.