Sasha’s Spay – The Surgery Process

Have you ever wondered what exactly happens once your pet has been admitted for surgery?  You’ve gone through all the options, signed the consent form, we’ve taken your loved one to set them up in a kennel and now what?

First when your pet is taken to a kennel and set up with a blanket, they get a name band ID as well as a kennel ID.  Their surgery details are written on our surgery board – all the items you have consented to are placed up on the board so all involved know what is happening with your pet that day.  Your pet will also get weighed, either prior to going to their kennel or after (depending on how much is going on up front because we want your pet to be as still as possible to get a very accurate weight).  This current weight determines the doses of sedative/anesthetic and pain medication your pet receives.

Once the veterinarian arrives she does a pre-surgical exam on your pet.  She checks temperature, heart rate, as well as general overall health of the eyes, ears, etc.  Depending on the type of surgery she also checks teeth, palpates the abdomen, and checks for testicles.  If anything is noted that was not already on your surgical consent form (such as; retained baby teeth, umbilical hernia, possible ear infection or ear mites) the doctor will make note to contact the owner before proceeding with surgery and your pet is returned to their kennel.  If you have consented to any pre-surgical blood work, the blood is draw before going back to their kennel so it can be run.

Many factors are taken into account when determining the order of surgery, including: type of surgery, contamination factors (ie bacteria from a dental cleaning), whether a patient will be staying overnight, as well as the stress level of the patients (if your pet is experiencing a lot of anxiety, they are often done earlier to allow the pre-med and anesthetic to ease their stress) once this is done the doctor calculates the amount of pre-med your pet will receive.  This is determined by weight, age, underlying medical conditions and breed.  Breed sensitivity factors are taken into account as well as any medical sensitivity notes on your pet’s file.  The pre-med includes both a sedative and pain medication.  After their pre-med injection, they are again returned to their kennel.  Once the pre-med has caused your pet to be sedated they are brought out and prepped for surgery.

Now we can follow Sasha on her journey:

A registered veterinary technologist will remain with Sasha from this moment on through recovery.  First her IV goes in and she is given injectable anesthetic to put her under.  Once she is ready she is intubated and hooked up to the anesthetic machine (which releases a mixture of anesthetic gas and oxygen).  Sasha is also hooked up to a blood oxygen and heart rate monitor.

Before her surgery site is prepped all other options the owner has consented to are performed.  In Sasha’s case she is being tattooed and microchipped for identification.

Next Sasha is prepped for her spay.  Her abdominal area is shaved, all the fur is vacuumed away and the site is sterilized.

While the veterinary technologist is prepping Sasha for her spay, the doctor – Dr. Barb Eatock in Sasha’s case – is preparing herself for surgery.  Just like in human surgery the veterinarian scrubs with a special soap to disinfect the hands and arms.  A sterilized gown and gloves are worn.  Sasha is now carefully transported into the surgery ward where she is laid on a special heating mat covered with a towel.  She is hooked up to several other monitoring devices; a blood pressure cuff, an oxygen level monitor, a monitor that is checking her respiratory rate and her release of carbon dioxide as well as a special monitor that measures her heart rate and temperature.  If needed the technologist can adjust the amount of anesthetic gas she is getting and the rate at which her IV is flowing.  She can also create an artificial breath to increase Sasha’s release of carbon dioxide or increase her oxygen level.

Once the technologist has Sasha hooked back up to the anesthetic gas and monitors, Sasha’s body is covered with sterilized surgical drapes with only a small opening in one that allows access to the surgical site.  This creates a sterile field that protects against contamination.  Using a scalpel the veterinarian makes a small incision through Sasha’s skin and all the tissue, muscles and ligaments in the abdominal wall to get to her uterus.  The incision for a spay is always made running from head to tail.  This is based on the anatomy of the body to reduce the trauma to the muscles and decrease the amount of time for healing (if cutting across the abdominal wall more muscles are cut which increases the time to heal – think of a woman who has had a c-section).  The incision is made as small as possible.  The veterinarian then uses a set of special tweezers called forceps to pull Sasha’s uterus out.  Note the special shape of Sasha’s uterus.  Unlike humans, both dogs and cats have uterus’ shaped like a Y.  Each side is called a horn and is where puppies and kittens develop during pregnancy.  The base then leads to the vaginal opening.  Hemostats are used to clamp off the ends of each horn of the uterus and to the base where they join, to reduce bleeding as they are removed.    Once the uterus has been removed the entire surgical site is sutured shut:  first dissolving sutures are placed in the interior abdominal wall, then sutures are placed in the layer of skin.  During the entire surgery Sasha is continuously monitored by the technologist and stats are recorded every 5 mins.

It is imperative that Sasha is kept as calm as possible especially in the first few days after her surgery.  If allowed to run around and jump and play like normal, it is possible for the stitches to tear and her incision would break open.  If this happens the intestines and other organs can come through this opening.  Until the body has had a chance to start the healing process she needs to be prevented from being a typical kitten.

After Sasha’s surgery is complete, she is given an injectable pain medication,  if there are any baby teeth to be extracted, they are removed now.  She is then moved back to her kennel where there is a heat disc and lots of warm bedding.  It is very important that she stays warm during her surgery and recovery.  The technologist remains with Sasha as she starts to come out of anesthetic.  In about 5-10 mins she will be attempting to swallow and her endotracheal tube will be removed.  The tech remains with her for at least another 10 mins or more until she can sit up and fully swallow on her own.

Sasha remains on IV fluids through the morning and most of the afternoon.  She is checked often by the technologists to ensure she is doing well.  Since Sasha is a kitten, once she is up and moving around she is offered a snack.  Young animals’ metabolisms are very fast and so will need to eat much sooner than an older animal after surgery.  Often older animals won’t eat until the next morning as they may feel a little queasy and not be interested in food.

Sasha’s family comes and picks her up in the later afternoon.  A receptionist will retrieve her file upon their arrival and ring through the surgery.  A technologist will then go over all the details from surgery: things her owners will need to do and watch for as she recovers as well as explain the pain medication and any other medication that may be going home with them.  Sasha remains in the kenneling area until all of this information has been given so we can have your undivided attention and answer any questions before being distracted by your pet.  While the tech is going through the details with you, another staff member will be checking Sasha’s incision as well as the rest of her over so she is in top shape to go home.  If she arrived in a kennel she will be placed in her kennel to be brought up front once instructions are complete.

Although Sasha is leaving the clinic, we don’t consider this to be the end.  A technologist will call her family the day after surgery to see how she is doing and answer any questions that may have arisen.  In 10-14 days Sasha will be coming back in for an appointment as her incision should be almost completely healed and the external suture can be removed.  We ask clients to come in to have this done as it allows us to check the incision over as well as other things preformed in her surgery.  In Sasha’s case we will take a quick look at her tattoo and likely rescan her for her microchip to ensure it is still in place.

We encourage clients if they have any questions or concerns to contact us.  We want to be sure your pet is recovering completely from their surgery, so if anything is worrying you, we ask you to not hesitate and just call.  Occasionally some pets need more pain medications or can get an infection in the incision.  There is no cost to you to bring them in for a post-operation recheck, only the cost of medications or additional services if needed.

***Sasha update: She is doing very well post surgery and becoming a busy, active kitten in her new home

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Traveling with Your Pet

traveltravel cat

More and more people travel with their pets (especially dogs) now than before.  Fido and sometimes Felix get to go on the family’s camping trips, to visit grandma and grandpa and to just be with the family.  If you are traveling within Saskatchewan there isn’t much different traveling from one area to another, that you need to know to ensure your pet’s health.  It is still a good idea though to be prepared for anything when traveling away from home.

Investing in a Pet First-Aid Kit that you take with you on any road trip can be the difference between life and death in some circumstances.  Having these items on hand along with a first aid book, can help you provide first respondent care to your pet until you can get to a veterinarian.  It is a good idea to add additional items to the kit to ensure it is complete specifically for your pet.  Keep your pet’s vaccination record inside, this way you will know what they have had and when, should you need to take them to a veterinarian while traveling (for example Rabies – good to know when this was given last in case your pet gets bit or scratched by any animal).  Check an antihistamine chart and determine what the best antihistamine type and size is for your pet and add it to the kit – in the event of a bug bite followed by swelling, you will have something to give them, you should then contact a veterinarian should the swelling not improve or becomes worse.  A bottle of water and water dish, some polysporin ointment, q-tips, flashlight (with extra batteries) and saline (mild contact solution works) are also good items to include.  If you travel to a specific destination a lot, include the phone numbers of the closest, local veterinarians.  This way should the need arise you aren’t scrambling to find the number.


Is your pet on medication?  Ensure that you have enough for the time you are gone plus a week or two (just in case plans change and you are gone longer than anticipated).  Veterinarians cannot prescribe out of province so if you have forgotten your pet’s medication or you run out, a veterinarian there will need to do an exam before any medications can be dispensed.

Be sure to pack your pet’s dishes, toys, and bedding to take along.  Having fam

iliar items can help a pet settle when away from home.  Bring treats and enough food in the same manner as medication – pack enough that you have extra in case your trip is extended unexpectedly.  It is also a good idea to bring a jug or two of water for your pet.  Some pet’s don’t adjust well to changes in the water from one place to another and can get diarrhea from it.  Bringing your own ensures you don’t need to worry about that, or allows you the ability to mix the two together making it an easier transition.

If you are traveling to a destination that has a climate much different than our own, be aware of how this can affect your pet.  Watch for heat stroke and heat exhaustion, especially if your pet is accustomed to being in air conditioning rather than the heat.

Blue-Green Algae:

Blue-Green Algae otherwise known as Cyanobacteria or pond scum is an algae that forms in shallow, warm, slow-moving or still water.  The algae form what are called blooms that give the water a blue-green or pea soup like appearance.  Toxins are carried within the cells of this algae.  The toxins can vary in their affects causing only skin irritation in some and causing liver and or nervous system issues in others.  Pets can be affected by drinking or swimming in the water.  Even a small exposure of a few mouthfuls can be a fatal amount.  Because the toxin is very fast acting and can cause liver failure, killing your pet within a few days, it is imperative to get your pet to a vet immediately after exposure.  Although many “blooms” do not carry the toxins, the only way to be sure is through testing.

The Pet Poison Hotline has good information along with common signs to watch for in your pet.  Again, it is best to contact a veterinarian if they have been exposed to this algae.

If you are travelling outside Saskatchewan there are more things you need to be aware of;


Heartworm disease is caused by a type of parasitic worm that lives in the heart and surrounding vessels of domestic dogs and rarely cats.  Infection wth this parasite can lead to coughing, weight loss, heart failure, and death.  Obviously something to be avoided!

The disease is passed from an infected dog to another, through mosquitos.  The mosquito will pick up “baby” worms when it bites an infected dog and transfer them to another dog.  The worms take up to one year to mature.  An infected dog may have 50 or more worms.  Treatment is both lengthy, often taking several months, and costly.

Haeartworm is common in many areas of North America including the interior B.C., Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, parts of the Maritimes and most of the United States.  It is rare in Saskatchewan, Alberta and areas north of us. In 2010 there were 2 cases of heartworm found in Saskatchewan.  The first dog was a stray and it is believed that due to the high number of worms found in this dog it is likely that he was infected elsewhere.  The second dog was one that had been imported up after the devistation of hurricane Katrina.   That being said, it is possible for heartworm to become common here as well.

Fortunately heartworm is a preventable disease.  We recommend that anyone who is traveling outside of Saskatchewan or Alberta during mosquito season, have preventative medicine for their pets.  This may be a topical product (Revolution) placed on the back between the shoulder blades or pills (Interceptor) given orally.  Depending on the type of medication prescribed and the travel history of the pet, a  heartworm test may be advised.  This is because if your pet is already infected with heartworm, giving preventative medication may make them very ill.  Heartworm testing involves taking a small blood sample and we generally have the results within a few days.  For pets who frequently travel to heartworm areas, annual heartworm testing is advised.  This is to ensure the preventative medication is working and to be able to treat a potential infection before it is too late.


Pets that go to the lake, camping, walk in the country or who live in rural areas are most liekely to attract ticks.  In many areas of Canada and the United States ticks are of particular concern as they may transmit diesases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever and other bacterial parasites.  Fortunately most of these diseases are not found in Saskatchewan.  Furthermore the tick that does transmit Lyme disease is not the tick we commonly find on our dogs here.  However, even if there is very little risk of disease from the ticks, the bites are irritating and in large numbers can make your pet feel ill.

Ticks are found in grass and bushes and jump on the pet as it passes by.  Taller grass is especially more prone to tick infestations.  Ticks like damp weather and dislike the heat.  If grass is kept short it becomes an environment they dislike.

Within a few hours of landing on your pet the ticks usually attach themselves into the skin and begin taking a blood meal.  Check your pet for ticks immediately after being outside and several hours later.  Ticks particularly like to attach to the ears and neck.  For dogs that are frequently in heavily infested areas a product to repel ticks may be advised.  Advantix is a pesticide that goes on the back of the dog’s neck and lasts 3-4 weeks.  These products will greatly reduce the number of ticks on the dog but will not entirely eliminate them.  It is not safe for cats and is not recommended for dogs that sleep with a cat or where the cat grooms the dog.  Revolution is another parasiticide that has activity against ticks.  It does not repel them but causes them to prematurely die and fall off once they have started a blood meal.  Revolution is safe for use with cats.

Travel outside of Canada:

If you are flying with your pet the airlines will require a health certificate issued within 10 days of travel.  You will need to book an appointment in this time frame to receive a certificate.

If you are traveling to the United States (by air or land) you need to be sure to take your pet’s Rabies vaccination certificate.  Without it you may be turned back and not allowed into their country.  Pet food must be kept in its original package and medications must be in the packages with the prescription label on it.

If you are traveling outside of North America, you will need to check the import requirements for animals entering the country you are visiting (or moving to).   Many countries – especially the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand have very stringent import requirements and the process required to bring a pet into the country needs to start at least 6 months prior to the date of travel.

If you are concerned about the health of your pet during the trip or if you think they will require sedation or anti-nausea medications, please contact your veterinarian.

A little extra planning for your pet when you are thinking about a holiday can go a long way to making sure that everyone – including your pet – has a great vacation!

Max & MacDuff Fox

Meet Jimmy – Biggest Loser Contestant

Day One

Day One

Meet Jimmy – he is a 5-year-old Shih Tzu with a starting weight of 9.1 kg (20 lbs) and an ideal weight of 5.2 kg (11.4 lbs).

When asked to describe Jimmy, his owner says he is a happy and friendly boy with an interesting trait of cleaning his face like a cat!  He loves stuffed toys and his favourite is a stuffed squirrel.

Jimmy’s owner says she plans to get in more exercise for Jimmy, in part by being  consistent with going for walks, to help aid in his weight loss.  She feels the benefits of weight loss for him will be to help prevent arthritis and give him more energy.

Day One

Day One

Day One

Day One

Good luck Jimmy!

Watch for updates on how all the contestants are doing over the course of the Challenge.

Feel free to post comments and words of encouragement to each of them.  We will be certain to pass it along!

Enroll YOUR pet!

Meet Rusty – Biggest Loser Contestant

Day One

Day One

Meet Rusty a 5-year-old Spaniel Cross.  He is starting with a weight of 26.8 kg (59 lbs) and his ideal weight is potentially around 18.7 kg (41.1 lbs).

Rusty’s owner describes him as “a fun loving easy going pooch, who found his forever home at the Regina Humane Society.  Rusty loves to climb trees, get the squeekies out of toys and scout the counters for any food that may be close to the edge.  He loves to go for car and boat rides and visit his relatives and other dog cousins.”   His owner says Rusty can’t wait for the yard at his new home to be finished so he can play outside more.  He is also looking forward to going for more walks with his family.  The best part of the weight loss plan she says; “he doesn’t even know he’s on one!!”

Rusty thinks that losing the extra weight will make him look less like a sausage when he wears his Rider shirt on game days.  His family hopes that it will give him a long life with them and help his snoring problem 🙂

Day One

Day One

Day One

Day One

Good luck Rusty!

Watch for updates on how all the contestants are doing over the course of the Challenge.

Feel free to post comments and words of encouragement to each of them.  We will be certain to pass it along!

Enroll YOUR pet!