Working at an animal hospital, I sometimes get the wonderful opportunity to witness part of my pet’s care that most people are not privy to.
Many of you, I’m sure, wonder what happens after you say your temporary goodbye in the exam room before your pet goes to our treatment area. When my cat Sunset Shimmer (Sunny for short) turned six months of age, it was time to have her spayed. I decided to take this opportunity to document the step by step process and share it with you, our Sunrise Animal Hospital clients.
You are all familiar with the initial check-in process, and the consent form and questionnaire you completed before one of the assistants went over everything with you. Once completed, your pet, or in my case, Sunny was taken down into treatment where she was placed comfortably in her private kennel along with a blanket to keep her nice and comfy!
Before we perform any surgical procedures, a pre-surgical examination and bloodwork is done. Sunny’s pre-surgical examination involved listening to her heart and lung sounds, checking her temperature and doing an overall physical to ensure she was healthy enough to undergo surgery. Her blood work was a general series of blood tests suited to her age. It involved checking her liver and kidney functions and also clotting factors. Thankfully Sunny’s results were all normal! Pronouncing her a nice and healthy 6-month-old kitty! If the results of either the physical or her blood work come back irregular, I would’ve been advised by her veterinarian before any further steps were taken.
After she was pronounced healthy enough to proceed with her spay, Sunny was injected with a sedative. Once she was nice and sleepy, one of our RVT’s proceeded with shaving her leg to get her IV fluids hooked up. After her leg is shaved and prepped for the IV Fluids, Sunny was induced with an induction agent and prepped to be intubated.
During the process for induction, our Veterinary Assistant and RVT were listening to Sunny’s heart rate, respiratory rate and checking the temperature.
Once induced and intubated, Sunny’s eyes were lubricated to prevent any discomfort during the anesthetic process, her nails were trimmed, and the surgical area was shaved.
Before Sunny was ready for the surgical suite, Michelle, the RVT taking care of her, listened to her heart rate once more.
In the surgical suite, which I was fortunate enough to be present in, Sunny was placed on a heated surface to maintain her temperature while she was under anesthetic. She was then hooked up to our electronic monitoring devices which gives us readings of her respiratory rate, heart rate and blood oxygen levels. We also fitted her with a blood pressure monitoring cuff and prepped and cleaned the surgical site.
Once the area was prepped, a surgical drape was placed on Sunny to prevent any contamination of the area by Dr. DeZeeuw who had already scrubbed in for surgery. This step is always performed by someone who is scrubbed (the doctor) as anyone else coming into contact with it could cause cross-contamination of the incision area.
After Dr. DeZeeuw removed Sunny’s ovaries, I managed to get a quick snap of them before he prepared to stitch up Sunny’s incision area. We use dissolvable sutures for our spays and neuters at Sunrise Animal Hospital, so unless I was worried about something, she wouldn’t have to come back in for a repeat visit to get those stitches removed!
After her incision sewn up, our final step before recovery was the post-op Laser therapy treatment. I opted to get this elective procedure done as in my experience, I’ve noticed that those patients tend to report less pain, and heal a lot faster. It also helps that there’s a ton of research out that displays how it promotes recovery on a cellular level and reduces inflammation!
After Sunny’s laser was completed, she was moved from our surgical suite to the recovery area. Here, she got a whole lot of cuddles, her heart and respiratory rate monitored, and her temperature checked. Her intubation tube stayed in her throat until she swallowed and was awake enough to start actively breathing.
Once Sunny’s temperature was checked, and she had her tube removed, Sunny got to cuddle with my coworkers until she was awake enough to be put back into her kennel in the cat ward.
Sunny remained hooked up to her fluids until close to when it was time to take her home (we like to leave the fluids in for as long as possible to allow them the full benefit of the therapy). During the day, she was checked periodically by my coworkers (and myself!) to ensure she was safe and comfortable in her kennel as she slept off the surgery from the morning.
I hope Sunny’s spay experience gave you a bit of insight into what happens to your pet during our spay procedures. Stay tuned to Lyra’s spay experience for some insight into a dog spay!
Written by: Marwa Al-Alawi