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Surgery Safety

We receive many questions about the cost of spaying or neutering a pet. Families deciding where to go for these surgeries have a lot of information to process! Every owner worries for their pet’s safety but also has to manage costs.

It’s important to us at Lake Orion Veterinary Hospital that your pet gets the best care possible—even if it’s not at our hospital. Remember that veterinarians are trained surgical professionals whether they work at a low-cost clinic or a specialty practice. The variance in cost is due to facilities, materials, medications, and support staff.

Ask these questions when weighing cost and value:

  1. Does the cost quoted include pre-anesthetic bloodwork? One way to lower costs is to forego these tests. Ask what the clinic recommends. Bloodwork can identify organ abnormalities that make anesthesia unsafe. If your pet is older than six years, we recommend this precaution.
  2. What level of monitoring will the clinic offer while your pet is anesthetized? During surgery at Lake Orion Veterinary Hospital, a technician watches your pet’s heart rate, heart rhythm, oxygen level, blood pressure, and body temperature. Clinics are not required to watch these systems, and many omit blood pressure, temperature, or all monitoring.
  3. Where do pets recover? Is the recovery ward heated? Will they be alone when they wake? Will staff comfort them as they recover or leave them alone with other animals?
  4. Does the clinic have time and resources to offer aftercare, or will you need to visit your regular veterinarian? Will the doctor give a recheck appointment? Will they remove stitches or staples at this appointment? Will you be charged for it?
  5. Will the doctor administer pain medications? Will medications be given for home care? Is this cost included in the quoted price? Surgery can cause painful bruising in addition to pain from the incision. Make sure your pet will be comfortable.
  6. Does the clinic use an IV catheter and fluid therapy? This service is time-consuming but important. First, it stabilizes your pet’s blood pressure during anesthesia. Second, it allows doctors to give medications that will start to work fast. Surgery is risky, but IV catheters reduce risk and make the event easier for your pet.
  7. How many surgeries does the clinic do daily? Since we only perform one or two procedures per day, your pet has our undivided attention during surgery and recovery. If a clinic performs more procedures, they might have less time to spend with each patient.

The most important sign of a safe surgical environment is organization. Look for a hospital where the staff is ready to talk about the procedure and discuss their cost-saving measures with honesty and integrity!

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Heat Injuries

Ah, summer. Popsicles, day trips, and… devastating news stories about heat stroke in pets. Even dogs with thin coats are at risk for heat exhaustion, which can lead to heat stroke and death. But what is heat stroke, and what can you do to prevent it?

Description

Heat stroke occurs when a dog’s body temperature gets too high (above 105.8℉) and the brain sustains damage. It’s called “heat stroke” because the nervous system is one of the first systems to show signs of damage. High temperatures can damage many other organ systems in addition. Heat exhaustion happens before heat stroke and is less serious. Heat exhaustion rarely causes organ damage, but can be uncomfortable and cause dehydration.

Prevention

Preventing heat stroke is easy. If you are attentive to your pet, they will likely never suffer from heat exhaustion. Pay attention to how your pet is feeling. Is their skin hot? Are they panting and drooling? If so, offer a cool drink of water often and use damp towels to cool their skin. Limit water intake. Dogs drinking ice-cold water may drink too much and cause gastric dilatation-volvulus (known as GDV or bloat).

Heat injuries happen when we are comfortable and don’t notice our dog’s distress. This can happen when we are walking on pavement (because we wear shoes, but dogs could burn their pads), when we are sweating (dog’s can’t regulate their body temperature by sweating) or when we are exerting less effort during playtime (biking while your dog is running, throwing a ball, etc.). Be alert during these “mismatch” situations and watch your dog closely for signs they are too hot.

Avoid exercise during the hottest part of the day. If you enjoy exercise with your dog, aim for a morning or evening workout. A run or hike between 10 AM and 2 PM is dangerous if there is little shade on your route.

Absolutely never leave your pet in a hot car. Open windows won’t cool the car much, and create a security hazard.

Offer shade and plenty of water when pets go outdoors. If your dog spends time in a fenced yard or on a lead, make sure they can access cool grass and shade no matter where the sun is.

Pay extra attention to flat-faced breeds like pugs and French bulldogs. Their respiratory system might not work to cool them off when they get hot.

Signs

If you see these signs of heat exhaustion, administer first aid and take your pet to a veterinarian right away:

  • Laziness or collapse
  • Dizzy or disoriented behavior
  • Hot skin or cold, clammy skin
  • Panting and drooling
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

First Aid

At the first signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, begin first aid:

  • Move to a cool location
  • Use cool (not ice-cold) water on the skin
  • Use a fan to help airflow
  • Take the pet to a veterinarian if you see signs of heat stroke, even if the signs stop. Permanent damage could have occurred, even if symptoms go away.