We are your pet's surgical center and perform a variety of surgical procedures including spay and neuter, soft tissue surgery and orthopedic procedures such as cranial cruciate and fracture repair. Anything beyond our scope of expertise may be referred to a veterinary surgery specialist. Your pet's safety is our number one concern therefore all patients are prepared for surgery and recovered in our ICU under the watchful eye of trained health care team members. Your pet's vital parameters, heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen, CO2, respiratory rate and temperature are continously monitored by our trained anesthetic assistants. Our in house laboratory allows us to run pre-anesthetic blood tests the day of surgery. IV fluids are used to maintain blood pressure and help speed the recovery process. Pain control is provided for all surgical procedures and we employ a variety of pain management methods including local nerve blocks, injectable and oral pain medications depending on the type of surgery and individual patient assessment. PBMT laser treatment is including in our multi-modal approach to pain control and is performed on every surgical patient. See PBMT
Our team of veterinary surgeons posing as the April 2017 New Yorker Magazine cover - read more about this picture challenge: #ILookLikeASurgeon
What is Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS) ?
Minimally Invasive Surgery or MIS for short, is a relatively new area of veterinary medicine that traditionally has only been available in veterinary specialty practices and teaching hospitals. Used routinely in human medicine, MIS utilizes a surgical high definition camera called a laparoscope, and specialized equipment to perform a variety of surgical procedures using very small incisions compared to traditional surgery. If you know of anyone who has had gall bladder or knee surgery, chances are it was performed using these methods. MIS speeds recovery time and has been scientifically shown to be less painful then traditional surgery. As the surgical incisions are smaller, there is less chance for incision complications in the healing period and patients are often more active in the healing period. If it is time to have your pet spayed, this is an alternative to the traditional method of surgery. We are pleased to be able to offer this cutting edge technology at our hospital and to have our veterinarians and health care team trained to perform laparoscopic procedures. Please do not hesitate to contact our hospital if you would like to find out more about this type of surgery and if it is right for your pet. We offer a free Pet Telehealth consultation with one of our veterinarians to discuss the procedure. New patients and referrals are welcome!
Length of incision needed for a traditional spay
Smaller incision using a "port-hole" to perform a Lap spay = less pain & faster recovery
See Lap Spay Q and A for more information. The fur is clipped higher for a Lap Spay but the incision is much smaller.
Laparoscopic Spay or "Lap Spay"
Laparoscopic Liver Biopsy
Laparoscopic Exploratory Surgery
Laparoscopic assisted GI, pancreatic Biopsy
Laparoscopic assisted Cystotomy
Laparoscopic Retained Testicle Removal
Dr. Pankatz performing a laparoscopic spay or "lap spay".
Laparoscopic view of the liver and gall bladder
View of the ovary, uterus and kidney during a "lap spay"
Ovariohysterectomy (OVH) vs Ovariectomy (OVE)
When it comes to spaying your female cat or dog, there are two methods that achieve the same outcomes of prevention of pregnancy, uterine infection (pyometra) and decreased risk of mammary cancer. Traditionally in North America, veterinarians have been trained to perform an ovariohysterectomy (OVH) which involves surgical removal of both ovaries and the uterus up to the cervix. Ovariectomy (OVE) involves the surgical removal of the ovaries only leaving the uterus in place. OVE's have been performed in Europe for many years and are being performed more and more in hospitals offering laparoscopic surgery. The advantage of OVE's is that there is less tissue removed which can translate into decreased risk for complications and quicker surgery times.
At MVVH we perform BOTH types of surgery depending on the patient and owner's preference. To read more about OVH vs OVE, click the following link:
Spay and Neuter Surgery: What's Included at MVVH
Balanced General Anesthesia
IV catheter and Surgical Fluids *
Dedicated Trained Surgical/Anesthesia Technician
Surgery with Experienced Veterinarian
Anesthetic Monitoring Equipment
Hypothermia Prevention - Patient Warming Device
Intra-Op and Post-Op Pain Medication
PBMT Laser Incision Treatment (decreases pain/enhances healing)
Hospitalization and Nursing Care
Optional but recommended:
Pre-op bloodwork (may be required for older or pre-existing conditions)
E-collar (if pet tends to lick at the incision)
*feline neuters do not receive IV fluids unless concerns arise
What's the difference between a low cost spay/neuter clinic and a full service hospital procedure? Why are they so much cheaper?
Pet owners have choices when choosing where to have their pet spayed or neutered however it is best to be fully informed when making those choices. We are here to support you in which ever choice you make. Having your pet spayed or neutered has many health benefits and is an important part of pet ownership. Low cost spay/neuter clinics play an important role in making this important procedure accessible to all pet owners, especially those with financial limitations. They are generally very safe and staffed with licensed veterinarians and fill a need in the community. Spay/neuter clinics operate on volume and are designed to offer fast, "no frills" surgical care to get as many patients through the door as possible at the lowest cost possible. Multiple patients are dropped off at the same time and then lined-up in an assembly line process. They are financed by public and business charitable donation to keep the fee down and fees generated go back into the operation of the shelter and the staff employed, however volunteers are vital to make these operations feasible. Increasingly, shelters are starting to offer surgical and wellness services to help fund their operations as a shifting trends in shelter models are occurring. Full service hospitals, on the other hand do not get outside funding through donation, employ multiple certified and trained professionals (not volunteers to keep costs down) and are well equipped to handle routine and emergency care. If you are looking for individual care geared toward your pet then a high volume low cost spay/neuter clinic may not be for you.
Grab a coffee to read the following! There are many important differences and you are in the driver's seat when making informed decisions for your pet!
1) Low-cost clinics do not typically require or offer bloodwork before surgery.
One main reason for this is because most young, healthy animals do not have any underlying metabolic issues. But there are always exceptions. If the clinic provides a bloodwork option, your cost will go up. But if you decline the bloodwork or if the clinic doesn’t offer it, if your pet has an underlying medical issue (liver or kidney disease, bleeding disorder, etc.), the vet and staff will not know and the risk for surgical and post-op complications will go up. Bloodwork helps your vet and staff know what risks are present, what anesthetic drugs to use and/or whether your pet can even safely have surgery. This is also a great time to establish what is normal for your pet and create a starting baseline should your pet become ill in the future.
2) Low-cost clinics do not usually place an IV catheter or give intravenous fluids to your pet during surgery.
One of the reasons for this is that most high-volume spay/neuter veterinarians are able to perform surgery in a fraction of the time (as long as an experienced veterinarian is performing the surgeries). But why might an IV catheter and fluids be important? Fluids provide assistance with blood pressure stability and perfusion to organs. If your pet has trouble with blood pressure, decreased perfusion to important organs may cause them to fail, typically not seen for days or weeks after your pet goes home. Most young, healthy animals will not have this problem and typically the surgery is quick, but not always. If your hospital provides this, your cost will go up. ALL patients undergoing and spay and neuter procedures in our hospital have a pre-placed IV catheter and fluids given during the procedure.
3) Low-cost clinics have limited staffing and cannot provide constant attention to your pet before, during and after surgery.
There are often only one or two veterinary technicians or assistants on staff during a typical surgery day or perhaps volunteers with no or little formal medical training and they are commonly multi-tasking. The most consistent time we see complications or accidental death is right after surgery, in recovery—this is true for any hospital or clinic. If your pet is not directly monitored by a technician at all times, if they have any difficulty in surgery or recovery, it is possible that a minute or two (or more) may go by without this difficulty being noticed. This is not intentional, of course—it has to do with the number of staff available. If a hospital provides constant nursing care and monitoring for your pet, your cost will go up. We generally do not perform more than 4 or 5 spay/neuter procedures in a day so that patients can be monitored properly by our trained technicians and that procedures can be mostly performed in the morning so that our patients are well awake and recovered before going out the door. If your pet can't walk or can't walk without staggering, then they are not ready to be safely discharged.
4) Low-cost clinics do not routinely monitor CO2 levels, ECG, blood pressure and constant body temperature for your pet during surgery.
A pulse-oximeter is usually the only monitoring device present, revealing heart rate and oxygen perfusion in the blood, which are important. But other vital signs can be important too. Hypothermia can make recovery long and difficult, ECG readings help determine any heart abnormalities, abnormal CO2 levels can be deadly, and I’ve already explained what low blood pressure can do. Again, the most common reason for not monitoring these things is that the surgery is geared to be as fast as possible and it takes time to hook up monitors. If your hospital provides these other monitoring devices, the equipment costs money and the trained/certified staff member must be paid to be there, use them and know how to manage any complications.
5) Low-cost clinics do not provide a full, comprehensive physical exam and vet consultation for your pet before surgery.
Exams are limited due to the number of surgeries that must be performed in a day. You do not have an opportunity to discuss your pet’s health and concerns with a vet before the surgery is performed. Issues such as retained baby teeth, heart murmurs and umbilical hernias can be addressed at the same time of surgery, but these are likely to be missed or not addressed at all at a high volume spay/neuter clinic. There may be an area on your drop-off sheet where you can write your concerns, however, you will likely never see or meet your veterinarian. At MVVH all patients undergoing spay and neuter services receive a comprehensive examination prior to the procedure. At this time any other issues such as a heart murmur, retained baby teeth or testicles, and hernia repair can be a discussed and a plan made. It is more economical for pet owners to address these issues at the time of surgery than to plan a separate second procedure.
6) Low-cost clinics are not the best option for higher-risk pets: large and giant breed dogs, senior pets, brachycephalic breeds (those with flat/smashed faces), obese, in-heat, pregnant and aggressive dogs and cats, those with a history of medical issues, etc.
Low-cost clinics are not typically set up to handle emergencies if they arise or hospitalize animals overnight for additional care if necessary. They lack the proper equipment, training, staffing and time to handle anything outside of a normal, healthy patient surgery and recovery. If your hospital is set up for this, your cost will go up. There are liability waivers to be signed and information is provided to help owners make reasonably informed decisions, however, most places do 30-50 surgeries in a day and shelters and low-cost clinics simply cannot afford the time and staffing to have lengthy discussions with every owner about the differences in what they do and what full-service clinics do. And 99% of the time, pets recover in these facilities and there are no issues, so these discussions do not typically take precedence.
8) Enquire about pain control when considering using a low-cost clinic
Surgery hurts and each patient can be very different to their response to pain. Older patients can take longer to recover and may need more pain control. Assessment of pain is best when it is individualized. Low cost clinics may provide minimal pain control techniques. Will your pet be going home with medications after the surgery? Can you call the hospital if you are concerned about pain? Do they perform a PBMT laser treatment after the surgery? At MVVH safety and pain control is our primary concern. We employ techniques that exceed minimum standards to ensure your pet is well cared for.
Laparoscopic spays have been shown to decrease pain associated with surgery in our patients and we offer this option, as well as traditional spays. We offer a no charge consultation with our surgeons for those pet owners interested in a laparoscopic spay for their pet.
9) At what age are spay/neuters being performed and recommended?
Pediatric spays and neuters are often performed in shelter-owned animals and in breeder's animals for practical reasons but this is not in the best interest of the overall health of the patient. Early procedures are performed to ensure that pets will not be able to breed after adoption. This cuts down on pet overpopulation as well as protects breeder's bloodlines. Unfortunately, pediatric spays and neuters can cause delay of the closing of the growth plates in the bones of some animals which can lead to pathologic growth plate fractures. If you have the choice, spay and neuter should be delayed to after 6 months or later depending on the breed and size of the patient. These are conversations that can be had with your veterinarian so you can make the best decision for your pet. Unless under the circumstances as prescribed above ie. practical reasons, it is not recommended for privately owned pets to undergo early, pediatric spay and neuter.
10) Are vaccines given at the time of surgery?
Vaccination is one of the best means we have to protect our pets from life-threatening illnesses. Rabies vaccines are also important to help protect the humans they live with as it can be fatal in both humans and pets. There are circumstances in which vaccines should not be given, and at the time of surgery is one of them. Vaccines stimulate the immune system and this can affect different animals in different ways. Some animals will show no effects while others may feel a little slow or off for 24 hours. In some circumstances, there may be some vomiting or diarrhea and in rare cases, pets can have an allergic reaction which can range from facial and throat swelling and hives to a serious anaphylactic reaction. For this reason, it is NOT advisable to combine vaccines with surgical procedures. In a sedated or recovering pet it may be difficult to assess if they are having a reaction and the immune stimulation from the vaccine may contribute to your pet feeling unwell or cause them to fall ill because their immune system is already dealing with surgery and healing of the body. It is best to vaccinate your pet when they are healthy and feeling well, not when they are in a compromised state. This is also why a physical exam is recommended before vaccination to make sure there are no contraindications. Again, full physical exams are not performed in spay/neuter clinics due to lack of time and to keep the costs down. This is the same for for rabies clinics where only a vaccine and not an exam is given. Vaccine clinics have there place but pet owners should be aware that routine physical exams are vitally important for the health of their pet and vaccines should ideally be performed after a physical examination and to also discuss the particular needs of your individual pet.
11) What about the mental toll?
High volume spay/neuter clinics are about efficiency and speed and keeping the costs to a bare minimum. They are not geared to keep patients in a quiet, Fear Free environment. Individual care for fearful or stressed-out patients is difficult to manage in a room full of patients. If you are concerned about this, then choosing a hospital that offers quiet spaces, Fear Free techniques and a dedicated RVT for your pet during their stay may be a better choice. Medications can also be prescribed the day before surgery to help decrease anxiety in the patient. Visiting the hospital for just a fun visit and a treat before coming in surgery day also helps decrease the stress of visiting an new environment. We employ Fear Free techniques such as phermone diffusers, soothing music, odour-free sanitizers and individual nursing care to make all patient visits as Fear Free as possible. Individualized anesthetic protocols also helps with a smooth induction and recovery as not one size fits all.
12) Ask what is the protocol should your pet have a post-operative complication?
Since many low cost spay neuter clinics are not always open full time, you may be surprised that they are often not equipped to deal with post-operative problems such as incision infections, scrotal hematomas and a variety of other problems that may be encountered in the post-op period. In many cases, you will be referred to an after hours emergency hospital or your local veterinary hospital. The office visit, assessment and any procedures or medications prescribed will not be covered by the spay/neuter clinic.
Endoscopy utilizes high definition camera technology (ie. "endoscopes") to examine various parts of the body in a minimally invasive manner. Endoscopy can be used to examine the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract (larynx, esophagus, stomach, intestines and colon), the trachea, the urethra, vagina and urinary bladder in female dogs, the nasal cavity and the ear canal. We have flexible and rigid endoscopes as well as a video otoscope (special scope to examine the ear) to help diagnose many conditions in our patients decreasing the need for more extensive surgical intervention. Biopsy samples can often be taken at the same time allowing for the accurate diagnosis of a variety of conditions. Some indications for endoscopy in veterinary medicine include:
Stomach foreign body removal
Chronic gagging, vomiting or regurgitation
Blood in the urine
Chronic nasal discharge
Images captured with our Karl Storz endoscopy equipment
We are a declaw free hospital
The scientific evidence can no longer be disputed - declawing your cat can cause long-lasting, irreversible physical and emotional harm. Now illegal to be performed in British Columbia and Nova Scotia, declawing is also deemed illegal in Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Brazil, the United Kingdom, parts of Europe and some cities in California and Colorado. Think you can't live with those little daggers? Don't despair as there some great new products available along with lots of tips we can give to help!