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Signs and Symptoms Your Pet Needs Surgery

There are lots of different elements to veterinary medicine, and like us, there are times where our animals need a surgical solution in order to effectively treat an injury or illness. As owners, it is very unlikely that you will be able to tell if your pet will need surgery, but your veterinarian will perform a range of diagnostic tests that won’t only confirm what the underlying issue is that is affecting your animal, but will also tell them the best course of action to take.

Routine/elective veterinary surgeries

Most animal surgeries are planned in advance, either as a response to illness or as an elective choice for the benefit of your pet, for example, spaying/neutering. Some of the most common routine surgeries performed on pets include:


  • Repairs for dislocations/fractures

  • ACL injury repairs

  • Ear canal removal

  • Amputation due to infection or injury

  • Exploratory surgery

  • Cancer surgery


As you might expect, the symptoms of these conditions can vary widely, from pain and mobility issues to unusual lumps and bumps. In the case of exploratory surgery, the potential list of symptoms is endless. If you suspect that your pet is injured or unwell in any way, it is always worth getting them checked out by your vet. We have an orthopedic surgeon at our Linn Creek veterinary clinic.

Emergency veterinary surgery

While the majority of pet surgeries are either elective or scheduled, there are some situations in which an animal may need emergency surgery to resolve a problem and potentially save their life. When it comes to these cases, it is essential that you know what to look out for so that you can get your pet the help that they need right away. Here are some of the most common veterinary emergencies that require surgery and symptoms.


Gastric Dilation Volvulus

Also known as GDV, this condition is basically severe bloat. The affected animal’s stomach dilates with either gases or fluid, causing it to rotate or twist on itself. Signs of bloat include:


  • Retching without vomiting

  • A painful and distended abdomen

  • Excessive drooling

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Shallow breathing

  • Pale gums

  • Unusual behaviors, such as pacing


Bloat is life-threatening and surgery must be carried out immediately and without delay. Therefore, if your pet exhibits any of these symptoms it is essential that you get them seen by your emergency veterinarian straight away.



Another serious and potentially life-threatening condition, hemoabdomen is a condition that occurs when there is free blood in the abdominal cavity. There are several reasons why this can happen. A ruptured tumor, a blood clotting deficiency, and internal bleeding caused by traumatic injury can all result in a hemoabdomen. Signs of a hemoabdomen include:


  • Rapid breathing

  • Cold extremities

  • Pale gums

  • Swollen abdomen

  • Restlessness

  • Weakness

  • Collapse


Your vet will need to make a prompt diagnosis and carry out surgery to stop the bleeding before the condition proves fatal.


Intervertebral disc disease

Also known as IVDD, this condition doesn’t always necessitate emergency surgery, but if your pet’s symptoms are severe enough, your vet may want to intervene with surgical treatment as soon as possible to prevent them from suffering unnecessarily. IVDD occurs when the intervertebral discs found in your pet’s spine slip out of place, causing them to place pressure on the surrounding nerves. This can cause a number of symptoms including:


  • Sudden mobility issues affecting their limbs

  • Inability to use their back legs

  • Obvious pain in the limbs that are causing them distress

  • Complete paralysis


Surgery to resolve IVDD is highly invasive and your pet will take some time to recover. Fortunately, it has a high success rate of between 80-90%.


Got more questions about pet surgery? Or want to schedule an appointment with our veterinary orthopedic surgeon? Please contact our expert team today.

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