What Does a Veterinary Surgeon Do for Cats and Dogs?

When our furry friends encounter health issues that require more than just medication, it’s the veterinary surgeon who comes to the rescue. But what does your pet’s surgery entail, and what exactly does a vet surgeon do? In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the world of veterinary surgery for cats and dogs. Let’s dig deeper into the incredibly critical, often life-saving role these professionals play in our pets’ lives.

What is a Veterinary Surgeon?

A vet surgeon is a highly trained professional who performs various surgical procedures on animals. These experts have gone through extensive training and education to attain their qualifications, which include years of veterinary school, followed by a residency program specializing in surgery.

Specialized Surgical Fields

  • Orthopedics: Focused on skeletal and muscular issues
  • Neurology: Deals with brain, spinal cord, and nerve problems
  • Oncology: Expertise in treating cancer and tumors
  • Soft Tissue Surgery: Involves surgeries of non-bony body parts such as skin and organs

When Does a Cat or Dog Need a Veterinary Surgeon?

In certain instances, particularly in complex health scenarios, routine check-ups surpass primary care, thus necessitating the involvement of a vet surgeon. This typically includes cases involving severe trauma, intricate medical conditions, or highly specialized treatments.

Common Surgical Procedures in Cats and Dogs

  1. Spaying/Neutering: Helps control the animal population
  2. Skin mass Removal: Ordinary in older pets, mainly to mitigate cancer risk
  3. Orthopedic Surgeries: Involves resolving bone and joint issues
  4. Emergency Surgeries: Required in severe injury or sickness cases

Preparation for Surgery

The preparatory phase requires a vet consultation, specific diagnostic tests depending on the pet’s condition, and a thorough physical examination. Such detailed examination is crucial to identify potential anesthetic challenges and tailor the safest and most effective surgical plan for your furry friend.

The Anesthetic Process for Cats and Dogs

Anesthetizing is an indispensable part of the surgical process. It keeps the animal pain-free and oblivious to the ongoing procedure.

Anesthetic Risks and Safety Measures

As with humans, anesthetic procedures do carry some risk, though complication rates in veterinary surgery are meager. Rigorous pre-operative exams and optimum monitoring tools ensure the utmost safety and comfort of your pet during anesthesia.

What Happens During the Surgical Procedure?

The surgical procedure in pets, akin to human surgeries, is an intricately sequenced process. It starts from the initial preparation phase, involves precise expertise during the surgery, and ends with a closely monitored recovery phase. Let’s go through the typical stages of the surgical process in detail.

  1. Pre-surgical Examination: The process usually begins with a detailed examination of your pet. This includes physical assessments, reviewing health history, and performing essential diagnostic tests to determine the safest surgical and anesthetic plan.
  2. Pre-operative Nutrition: A fast from food is typically required before surgery – your vet surgeon will provide specific directives regarding this. A typical rule is withholding food from midnight on the day of surgery.
  3. Patient Admission: Your pet is then admitted to the veterinary hospital on the day and time as instructed.
  4. Pre-medication: Once admitted, your pet will be pre-medicated. This often includes a sedative to help the pet relax and possibly a pain reliever to manage post-operative discomfort.
  5. Anesthetic Induction: Anesthesia is then induced by the vet surgeon, usually through an intravenous injection.
  6. Endotracheal Intubation: An endotracheal tube is inserted into the pet’s trachea (windpipe). This provides a secure airway and allows delivery of inhaled anesthesia and oxygen.
  7. Surgical Procedure: Once the pet is anesthetized, the vet surgeon proceeds with the surgical procedure. This may range from a quick, straightforward operation like neutering to a lengthy, complex surgery such as tumor removal or fracture fixations. The degree of complexity generally dictates the duration of the procedure.
  8. Waking up from Anesthesia: Following surgery, the anesthetic is withdrawn, and the pet is shifted to a quiet, comfortable space where it can recover under close supervision.
  9. Post-Operative Recovery: During recovery, pets are continuously monitored to ensure they are recovering well from anesthesia and that their pain is being managed effectively. Once they are awake and stable, most pets can return home on the same day.
  10. Home Care: At-home post-operative care is crucial for total recovery. This might include administering prescribed medication, keeping the pet calm and comfortable, and restricting their activities.

The Surgical Team

The surgical team is a group of qualified professionals, each with a unique role. The team comprises the main veterinary surgeon who operates, the anesthesiologist who administers and supervises the anesthesia, and veterinary nurses who support both the surgeon and the anesthesiologist.

Post-operative Care for Cats and Dogs

Post-operative care is as essential as the surgery itself. It involves careful monitoring of the pet, managing post-operative pain, providing an appropriate diet, and administering prescribed medications. Compassionate support and loved interaction from the pet parent are key for a smooth recuperation process.

Common Complications and their Management

Certain complications may arise post-surgery, such as infection, loose sutures, or poor healing. Early identification and prompt management of these issues by the vet surgeon is crucial in ensuring your pet’s quick recovery.

Costs Associated with Veterinary Surgery

Just like human medical care, veterinary surgery also carries associated costs. Factors such as the complexity of the surgery, the duration of the procedure, anesthetic charges, hospitalization fees, and medications all influence the overall cost of veterinary surgery.


As we have discovered, veterinary surgeons play a vital role in maintaining our pet’s health and well-being. Understanding what a vet surgeon does helps us appreciate the complexity and importance of their work and also helps us make well-informed decisions when our pets require surgical intervention. After all, as pet parents, all we want is the best for our animal companions.


Is It Safe to Stay in My Home During the Restoration Process?

When disaster strikes, it leaves chaos that often necessitates a massive cleanup and restoration process. This can range from dealing…

Where Can Hidden Mold Lurk and Why Is It Dangerous?

When we think about mold, we often picture visible spots on walls or ceilings. But did you know that mold…

What Causes Water Damage in Homes and How Can You Prevent It?

Think about returning from a relaxing trip, waking up to a calm day, and then finding water leaking from the…

Why Is It Essential to Have Legal Help With SSD Claims?

Navigating the stormy waters of Social Security Disability (SSD) claims can be overwhelming for anyone. When you're dealing with a…