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Dogs + Surgical Conditions

  • Penetrating wounds such as sticks, arrows, or gunshots can be life-threatening though the outer appearance of a wound may not seem as severe. Take immediate steps to calm your pet, stabilize any foreign body that is present, and get your pet to your veterinarian. Surgery may be necessary after your pet is stabilized.

  • A Penrose drain is a latex tube that is placed into a wound with one or two ends exiting the skin, allowing fluids to drain from the wound. The Penrose drain is designed to passively remove unwanted fluid, usually when treating abscesses or open wounds. Drains should be removed as soon as possible, usually within 2-4 days. Larger wounds may take longer. Once the drain and all the sutures have been removed, your dog can return to normal activities unless directed otherwise by your veterinarian.

  • Perianal fistula, also known as anal furunculosis is a serious medical condition that most commonly affects German Shepherd dogs. Perianal fistulas are characterized by chronic, purulent, smelly, ulcerating, sinus tracts in the anal region and surrounding skin. More recent studies indicate that the condition is more likely caused by an autoimmune disease. Medical management with immune-modulating drugs is now the preferred therapy. In severe cases, surgery is required to debride or remove as much infected tissue as possible.

  • The definition of a pneumothorax is an accumulation of air outside the lungs, but inside the chest wall. The air outside the lung prevents the lungs from inflating normally, and can lead to lung collapse. There are several variations of pneumothorax.

  • Porcupines are the third largest rodent and live in many rural areas in North America. They are not aggressive, but they happily defend themselves, their offspring, and their dens if needed. Porcupine quills can puncture the skin and move through muscle, ultimately penetrating into body cavities and internal organs. Do not cut quills; cutting the shaft makes the quill splinter more easily which ultimately makes it harder to remove. Do not attempt to remove quills yourself. Seek immediate veterinary care if your dog is quilled. Sedation or anesthesia is required to remove quills safely. The best defense against porcupine quills is prevention. Avoid allowing the dogs to roam at dusk or after dark.

  • A portosystemic shunt causes a bypass of blood from the gastrointestinal tract directly into the systemic circulation, avoiding the normal detoxifying process that happens in the liver and reducing nutrient input into the liver. Liver shunts can be congenital defects (failure of closure of the ductus venosus or inappropriate vascular development) or acquired (development of extra vessels caused by portal vein hypertension). Clinical signs include failure to thrive (runt), head pressing or other neurological signs especially after high protein meals, delay in anesthetic recovery, increased urination, and vomiting or diarrhea. CBC and biochemistry can be altered in a dog with a portosystemic shunt (e.g., microcytic anemia, low BUN, glucose, elevated ALT) and urinalysis can show abnormal crystals and possibly infection. Bile acids will be elevated. CT, ultrasound, or other more advanced imaging will confirm and locate the shunt. Initial treatment includes a change to a low protein diet, lactulose to absorb ammonia and other toxins, and antibiotics to change the bacterial population of the intestines. Some dogs do well with medical management; however, many need surgical treatment to gradually close off the shunt. Surgery is very successful and dogs return to normal in 2-4 months.

  • Pyometra is defined as an infection in the uterus. Pyometra is considered a serious and life threatening condition that must be treated quickly and aggressively. The preferred treatment is to surgically remove the infected uterus and ovaries. Another approach to treating pyometra is the administration of prostaglandins, although the success rate is highly variable.

  • Cryptorchidism is the failure of one or both testicles to descend into the scrotum. Toy breeds may be more at risk, but it can affect any breed of dog and is believed to be an inherited trait. Diagnosis can usually be made by palpation but sometimes requires blood testing or an abdominal ultrasound if the dog’s history is unknown. Risks of retained testicles include testicular cancer, spermatic cord torsion, and the development of undesirable male characteristics, so neutering is strongly recommended. Surgery is generally routine, and recovery is similar to any abdominal surgery.

  • One of the more common bladder stones found in dogs is composed of magnesium ammonium phosphate hexahydrate (also known as struvite stones). Struvite bladder stones usually form as a complication of a bladder infection caused by bacteria, and if the urine becomes exceptionally concentrated and acidic. The most common signs that a dog has bladder stones are hematuria and dysuria. There are three primary treatment strategies for struvite bladder stones: 1) feeding a special diet to dissolve the stone(s), 2) non-surgical removal by urohydropropulsion and 3) surgical removal. Dogs that have experienced struvite bladder stones will often be fed a therapeutic diet for life.

  • The post-operative period is just as important as the surgery itself. Following the set instructions will help avoid complications and lead to a smoother recovery. Monitor the incision daily for signs of redness, swelling, discharge, or excessive licking. Consider using an Elizabethan collar to keep your dog from licking the incision site. Should you have any concerns, contact your veterinarian immediately.