The unthinkable has happened; your beloved beagle seems to be paralyzed in his back legs, dragging them after him and unable to stand on all-fours. Or, your cat is in severe respiratory distress, appearing to have great difficulty breathing. Worst of all, your pet is comatose and bleeding from losing a battle with an automobile or another cat or dog. In past decades, these pets would either die naturally of their injuries or would be humanely euthanized. But today, improved techniques in veterinary surgery not only save their lives but also can restore them to an excellent quality of life.
Veterinary surgery today is truly remarkable in what it can achieve in the skilled hands of a qualified DVM. In addition, this generation of new DVMs has been thoroughly trained to use the most sophisticated veterinary surgery techniques never dreamed of twenty years ago. Orthopedic surgery to correct limb deformities and injuries, surgery for deafness or blindness, dental surgery, intestinal surgery for pets that swallow odd and potentially life-threatening objects, surgery to remove cancerous growths, surgery to remove cats’ impacted hairballs, and much more is now common in veterinary surgery.
What’s the drawback? Veterinary surgery is expensive. If you pet requires immediate and extensive surgery, either you can afford it or you can’t. “It’s only an animal,” some would say. But to you, this is your beloved companion who is suffering. Understanding completely how you feel about your pet, many veterinary surgeons will set up payment plans with you if they truly believe that surgery with your pet will have a good outcome. If the surgical outcome is very uncertain and the animal is suffering, your DVM may tell you that veterinary surgery is unlikely to relieve your pet’s condition and discuss humane euthanasia with you.
Examples of Successful Veterinary Surgery
Let’s go back to your beagle with the paralyzed back legs. Your vet will tell you that what has happened is that one or more disks have ruptured, or herniated, in your dog’s back. From the point of rupture on down, your dog is unable to move its hindquarters. Left untreated, your beagle, will be permanently paralyzed and most likely in chronic pain. How can veterinary surgery help? The ruptured disk material can be surgically removed so that it no longer presses on the spinal cord nerves. In time, with complete rest and steroidal medication to reduce pain and swelling, it is very possible that your beagle can regain partial, if not all, of its previous hindquarters, functioning.
A common injury among cats that come too close to highways or jump to the ground from great heights is the dislocation of one or both hip joints. The cat is unable to move, and the affected areas are extremely painful. Once the diagnosis has been confirmed by x-rays, veterinary surgery involves the repair of the dislocation in the cat’s hips and will eliminate future spontaneous dislocations; your cat will once again be mobile and pain-free – thanks to advances in veterinary surgery.