Surgical Services

We provide many surgical services at our clinic including spay and neuters, soft-tissue surgeries, dental surgeries and orthopedic surgeries. Occasionally, we refer our patients to specialists (board certified veterinary surgeons) to perform complex operations.

Anesthesia and Patient Monitoring

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With continuing development of animal anesthetic agents and techniques we strive to keep your pet monitored and stable throughout their surgery.

A physical exam and preoperative blood work allows us to identify any abnormalities or fluctuations in your pet’s health and assess these situations before anesthetic.

From local anesthetics, analgesics (pain medications), inhalant anesthetics and injectable anesthetics; the variety of agents allows us to choose the most suitable one for your pet.

In addition to our technicians monitoring your pet at all times, we also have a monitoring system, which enables us to see your pet’s vitals (i.e. heart rate, blood pressure, respiration rate, temperature, CO2 and SPO2 levels etc.) throughout surgery.

Your pets are monitored throughout recovery as well to ensure they are comfortable and safe and ready to go home as quickly as possible.

Spaying & Neutering

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Thank you for recognizing the importance of spaying or neutering your pet. Hopefully this will be the only time your pet will require major surgery during his/her lifetime. The following is a detailed description of all that is involved in this surgical procedure. Because your pet is being placed under a general anesthetic in order to have parts of their reproductive tract surgically removed, it is important that you understand the many details involved to make this surgery as safe as possible for your beloved pet. We are happy to answer any questions you may have after reading this information.

What preanesthetic evaluation will my pet have prior to surgery?

This is important for a number of reasons. A physical examination is our first defense against performing surgery on an animal that may have infectious disease, a heart murmur, or be debilitated from parasites. A preanesthetic blood test can detect hidden problems that could cause serious complications when your pet is under anesthetic or in surgery. At Britannia Animal Hospital, our preanesthetic blood is done prior to the surgery.  It evaluates the cells in the blood to assess for infection, anemia or dehydration.  It also evaluates total protein, glucose, liver and kidney values.  All of these values will help us better assess your pet’s liver, kidney and gastrointestinal health.

What safety precautions will be taken with my pet during surgery?

While most surgery is uneventful, emergencies sometimes arise. Early detection of impending problems greatly aids our ability to intervene and to correct the problem. An IV catheter is placed prior to anesthetic induction. The IV catheter is our port for providing emergency drugs if required. Having a catheter preplaced is one of the most important procedures for safety. IV fluids are administered to help maintain blood pressure, to provide internal organ support and to help keep your pet from becoming dehydrated. A breathing tube is placed (intubation) in the windpipe (trachea) of all anesthetized animals. This keeps the airway open and allows for supplemental oxygen and gas anesthetic as needed. This tube is also very important to prevent aspiration into the lungs if a pet vomits or otherwise has excess fluids/materials in their mouth. Aspiration results in serious pneumonia. A monitor which measures respiration, blood pressure and EKG allows the technician to keep track of the heart rate and rhythm, the amount of oxygen in the blood and blood pressure of your pet. Emergency drugs are pre-calculated for each patient and are close at hand in the event that they are required.

What safety precautions and comfort measures will be taken?

During anesthetic and surgery, patients lose body heat. At Britannia Animal Hospital, all patients are placed on a warm air circulating blanket and have their IV fluids warmed during surgery. We also place socks on our anesthetized pets to prevent heat loss through their feet.  Maintaining body temperature ensures a more stable anesthesia and a more rapid recovery. After surgery smaller dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, rats, sugar gliders and birds are placed in an incubator for recovery. Large dogs are wrapped in a comforter and supplemented with heating disks. A technician continues to monitor the surgery patients until they are stable enough to extubate and remove the IV catheter.

How will pain be controlled for my pet?

This is very important – surgery hurts! Pain is controlled before, during and after the surgery. We also inject local anesthetic into the skin where the incision will be made. At Britannia Animal Hospital we use injectable non-steroidal anti inflammatories or opioids to control pain.

Will I receive written post-surgical care instruction for my pet?

Aftercare of surgical patients is very important for proper healing.  Your pet will be discharged by one of our technicians and all the instructions will be discussed.

Cats and exotic pets are housed separately from dogs to reduce their stress levels. At Britannia Animal Hospital we have a separate surgical suite that is reserved for sterile surgical procedures only. The patient is prepared for surgery in a preparation area, not in the surgery room. This prevents hair and debris from possibly contaminating the surgery area. If the surgery area is not a single use area, infection rates are increased by increased traffic, debris, bacteria and viruses within the room. Having a sink in the same room as the surgery also increases infection rates.

Preparation of the Patient

After the examination and bloodwork, medications are given to relax the patient and start the pain management program. Next, an IV catheter is placed in the front or hind leg vein and warmed IV fluids are started. After assessing the heart rate and gum colour, an injectable, short acting general anesthetic is administered through the IV. This relaxes the patient enough to allow an endo-tracheal tube to be passed into the windpipe. This tube maintains oxygen and gas anesthetic during surgery. The patient is shaved and surgically scrubbed in the treatment area and then transferred into the surgical suite. Here the monitoring unit and the gas anesthetic machine is connected to the patient. In the surgery room, everyone is required to wear a surgical cap and mask. The surgeon scrubs their hands and arms at the dedicated surgical sink outside the surgery suite and dons a sterile surgical gown and gloves. A sterile surgical pack with instruments cleaned and sterilized in our autoclave is opened and readied for the surgeon.

The surgeon scrubs, gowns and gloves in fresh sterile gear between each patient. A fresh set of sterile instruments, blade and suture material is used for each patient.

All of our veterinarians place subcuticular skin sutures, meaning there are no sutures externally in the skin. This prevents excess licking at the surgical site.

Monitoring of the patient continues during and after the surgery. As surgery is finishing, more pain meds are administered so the patient remains comfortable as they recover.

Your pet is fed as soon as they are awake enough to eat. The fact that most of our patients eat on recovery is a testament to our pain control regime and body temperature maintenance.

Once fully recovered, the IV is removed, dogs are taken for a short walk and cats are given a litter box.

Our patients are discharged the same day. A discharge appointment is made with our technician so home care can be carefully reviewed.  Our receptionist calls the morning after surgery to ensure your pet is doing well and to answer any questions you may have.
Surgery 6b

Please contact us or visit our facility to learn more about our spaying or neutering procedures or for a tour of our animal hospital.

Dentistry

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Canine & Feline Dentistry

During our annual physical examinations we routinely will examine your pet’s mouth for any signs of oral or dental disease. The most common disease in pets over the age of 5 is dental disease! Just like us, our dogs and cats require dental hygiene practices to keep their teeth and gums healthy. This can be accomplished in many ways, including brushing, special diets, special chews and professional cleaning. Left untreated, dental disease can lead to many secondary problems including oral pain, abscesses, and organ diseases.

Once the plaque film on the teeth mineralizes it becomes a hard substance called tartar. The tartar cannot be brushed off. The only way to properly remove tartar is to clean it off (“scaling”) with special tools (the same type of tools that have likely been used in your mouth by a human dentist). Once the teeth have been properly cleaned above and below the gum line, we polish the teeth to make them smooth. If there are any teeth that are broken, missing or of questionable health status we will x-ray the teeth to better assess the roots and boney support structures of the tooth. If a tooth (or teeth) needs to be removed, we have the equipment necessary to properly extract teeth. Because our pets will not say “AHHHH”, we do need to anesthetize them for these procedures.

In young puppies we will also examine their mouths at every “puppy visit” to carefully watch as their teeth erupt and change. This is a very important time in the mouth, because it is changing very rapidly. A lot can be done during “puppyhood” to prevent dental problems later in life. This often includes removing puppy teeth that have failed to dissolve and fall out by 6 months of age. These retained puppy teeth can cause many problems, including preventing or interfering with proper growth/eruption of adult teeth, causing crowding of teeth, and accumulating excess food between teeth leading to early dental disease. We will also look for missing teeth, misaligned teeth and crowded teeth. One curious point you may not know is that small breed dogs have proportionately larger teeth than large breed dogs! For this reason, we do tend to see some special dental problems related to crowding of teeth more commonly in our tiny canine companions.

Exotic Mammal Dentistry

When you bring your small exotic mammal in for a physical examination we will check the teeth and mouth for any signs of oral or dental disease. Ferrets and hedgehogs have teeth similar to cats and dogs (and us): they grow an adult set of teeth as young animals that do not continue to grow (i.e. they have “closed roots). They have incisors, canines, premolars and molars, all of which can accumulate plaque and tartar over time and may require professional cleaning (see our dog and cat dentistry section for more details).

Rabbits, chinchillas and guinea pigs all have continuously growing teeth. The long front teeth you can easily see by pulling up the animal’s lips are the incisors. The incisors are used for biting off bits of food and pulling it into the mouth. Then there is a small gap of gum tissue where there are no teeth (the diastema), followed by many large, grinding flat molars and premolars. The molars cannot be seen by just lifting the lips in these species, and you will see us use a scope to better look deep into the back of the mouth. These molars are very important for grinding up the food, and they also continually grow and should be worn down evenly by chewing. Sometimes, the molars do not grind down evenly and they develop sharp points or spikes that can cause sores on the tongue or cheeks. This is a relatively common problem that is related to breed, conformation, diet and age. We can manage this problem by using special equipment to carefully grind off these sharp points and even out the teeth as necessary. We also will x-ray the skull to assess the very long roots of these teeth (only about 10% of the tooth is actually visible inside the mouth, the rest is deep in the bone of the jaw and face). Occasionally, the roots of the teeth can also become infected and lead to large abscesses deep into the bone and cheeks and need surgery to correct and drain, and the offending tooth (or teeth) will need to be removed.

Small rodents such as mice, rats, and hamsters have a combination of tooth-types. Their front, long incisor teeth are continuously growing. However, their flat, grinding molars are actually like ours, and do not continue to grow. We do occasionally see incisor problems in small rodents that require corrective trimming, but it is uncommon.

Soft Tissue Surgery

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Soft tissue surgery includes surgeries not associated with bone. Depending on the procedure, sedation or general anesthesia may be required. If a general anesthetic is required, we use several monitoring devices during your pet’s procedure, as well as heating devices to ensure warmth and comfort. A trained nurse continually assesses your pet’s vital signs during the procedure. Some examples of soft tissue surgery that we perform are as follows:

  • Mass removal
  • Biopsies
  • Abdominal surgery
  • Exploratory surgery
  • Intestinal foreign body removal
  • Bladder stone removal
  • Eyelid surgery
  • Perineal Urethrostomies
  • suturing wounds
  • Hernia repair
  • Cruciate surgery