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Dogs + Surgical Conditions

  • 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 (retained testicles) is a fairly uncommon disease that can be passed on to future litters. Clinical signs are uncommon unless complications develop. Testicular cancer and spermatic cord torsion are two complications that can occur with cryptorchidism. Neutering easily corrects the problem.

  • 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.

  • The term TECA-BO is an abbreviation for Total Ear Canal Ablation and Bulla Osteotomy. This surgery involves the complete removal of the ear canal and tympanic bulla (middle ear), leaving only the ear flap (pinna) remaining. It is recommended in cases of chronic, end-stage otitis (ear infections), in which medical treatment is no longer helping the patient.

  • The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. The ball is at the top of the thigh bone (femur), and the socket (acetabulum) is in the pelvis. Total hip replacement surgery removes and replaces both the ball and socket with prostheses. Most commonly, dogs having a total hip replacement will have a thorough examination and a blood screening profile to prepare for general anesthesia. Post-surgery, the dog will spend 3 to 5 days in the hospital to get the healing off to a good start. Approximately 90 - 95% of dogs who have a total hip replacement do very well and have excellent post-surgical function.

  • An umbilical hernia is a protrusion of the abdominal lining, abdominal fat, or a portion of abdominal organ(s) through the area around the umbilicus. An umbilical hernia can vary in size from less than a ¼” (1cm) to more than 1” (2.5cm) in diameter. Small (less than ¼” or 1cm) hernias may close spontaneously (without treatment) by age 3 to 4 months. If the hernia has not closed by the time of spaying or neutering, surgical repair of the hernia is recommended and prognosis is excellent.