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Understanding Soft Tissue Surgery in Pets

Some surgeries are performed to treat issues affecting the soft tissues of pets like wound repair, removing blockages and managing reproductive health. Here, our vets in Montecito share a variety of information about soft tissue surgery for cats and dogs and what to expect if your pet has a surgical procedure.

Soft Tissue Surgery for Dogs & Cats

Veterinary soft tissue surgery encompasses the majority of surgical procedures that are not in the sphere of orthopedic surgery. In other words, these procedures include everything not related to bones, joints, muscles, or the neurologic system.

Most Common Types of Soft Tissue Surgeries

Foreign Body Removal

Pets (especially dogs) often chew on objects that they end up accidentally swallowing leading to the need for foreign body removal surgery. Some commonly swallowed items include:

  • Corn cobs
  • Clothing, especially socks
  • Bones
  • Rubber and plastic toys
  • Hair bands
  • Thread

Mass Removal

Masses or tumors in pets can be either benign or cancerous. If these growths are cancerous or develop in an area that restricts movement, breathing, or eating then they will need to be removed.

Spay & Neuter Surgeries

Some of the most commonly performed soft tissue surgeries are spaying and neutering procedures. Your vet will perform this type of surgery to remove the reproductive system of your cat or dog to prevent unwanted litters, serious diseases and unwanted behaviors.

Bladder Stone Removal

Bladder stones in pets are a common occurrence and are caused by urinary tract disease, improper diet, inadequate hydration, or genetics. Prescription diets can dissolve stones of a certain composition, but other types of stones require surgical removal and thorough bladder flushing to prevent urinary blockage.

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome Repair

Short-nosed breeds of dogs like pugs are prone to breathing issues. Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome repair surgery can be used to treat this condition by opening the nostrils, shortening the soft palate and/or removing the laryngeal sac.

What to Expect When Your Dog or Cat Has Soft Tissue Surgery

Leading Up to Surgery

Your vet will first examine your dog before deciding if surgery is an appropriate choice. If your pet is overweight, the vet may suggest a weight-loss regimen before the procedure. Carrying additional weight raises the risks of administering anesthesia to your dog and may make it difficult for your pet to move after soft tissue surgery.

You may want to bathe and clean your dog in the week leading up to surgery as this will help the vet's preparation process. Additionally, you need to keep the incision dry while it heals, so your dog won't be able to be groomed for a period after surgery.

Plan transportation ahead of time, based on the type of surgery your pet will undergo and their expected level of mobility after the procedure. If you are unsure about the best way to transport your pet home after surgery, consult with your veterinarian. If your pet will need crate rest, have an appropriately sized crate ready for when he or she returns home after surgery.

In most cases, you will be asked not to let your dog eat or drink anything for a few hours up to a day before surgery. If your dog is on medication, consult with your veterinarian about whether you should pause the medication until after the operation. Some veterinarians may also request that you bring your pet to the veterinary hospital overnight.

During Your Pet's Soft Tissue Surgery

We will confirm the specifics of the procedure, complete a physical examination of the patient, and make sure blood tests have been completed and reviewed by the vet to determine if your pet faces any risk of anesthesia-related complications.

During each veterinary surgery, a dedicated nurse will administer anesthesia and continuously monitor your pet using electronic patient monitoring equipment. Pain management will also be provided. Once the surgery is complete, your dog will be held in a recovery area until it is time to go home. When they are discharged depends on factors like the type of surgery they had, how intensive it was and if there were any complications.

Recovery After Surgical Procedures

Postoperative care is crucial to the success of your pet's surgery. This healing process allows your pup to return to their normal routine sooner rather than later. You should follow post-op vet instructions very closely. If you do not understand any of the steps suggested, don't hesitate to contact your vet to clarify.

Following surgery, your dog may experience a temporary loss of appetite. Instead, you could serve a half-size portion of a light meal like chicken or rice. Your dog's appetite should return within 24 hours of its operation. If your dog hasn't eaten in more than 48 hours after surgery, contact your veterinarian.

Your veterinarian may prescribe pain relievers or medications for your dog following surgery to help with post-surgery discomfort or pain. Follow these instructions carefully to avoid unnecessary pain while your dog recovers. Never give human medications to your dog without first consulting your veterinarian. While medications help us feel better, they are harmful to our dogs and other pets.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Our experienced vets in Montecito are well-equipped to perform a range of surgeries for cats and dogs. Contact Montecito Pet Hospital today to schedule a consultation.

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