Educational Articles

Dogs + Surgical Conditions

  • Commonly called 'anal glands', the anal sacs are two small pouches located on either side of the anus at approximately the four o'clock and eight o'clock positions. Numerous specialized sebaceous (sweat) glands that produce a foul smelling secretion line the walls of the sacs. Each sac is connected to the outside by a small duct that opens just inside the anus.

  • The word anesthesia comes from the Greek meaning "lack of sensation". Anesthesia is accomplished by administering drugs that depress nerve function. With general anesthesia, the patient is made unconscious for a short period. During this unconscious state, there is muscular relaxation and a complete loss of pain sensation.

  • Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive therapy that is used to examine, diagnose, and treat diseases and conditions that affect joints. It requires a specialized piece of equipment called an arthroscope which will allow your veterinarian to look inside the joint using a small fiber optic camera that is hooked up to a monitor. It often requires general anesthesia; however, small incisions in the joint allow for a quicker recovery than traditional methods allow. The recovery time will depend on the extent of the injury, but compared to traditional surgery, recovery time is generally much shorter.

  • Bandages or splints may be necessary at times if your dog has a wound or a broken bone. Bandages can be applied to the head, neck, chest, tail, or lower legs of a dog. Splints are usually applied below the knee on the back leg or below the midpoint of the humerus on the front leg. Home care is very important and you will need to monitor for changes closely. Your veterinarian will give you more specific directions for the length of time that your dog has to be bandaged.

  • Bite wounds are a common injury veterinarians see. If left alone, wounds have the potential to become more complicated, as they are likely infected and delaying treatment only makes it worse. Antibiotics, pain medications, and stitches may all be involved in the post-bite wound care.

  • Bladder stones (uroliths or cystic calculi) are rock-like formations of minerals that develop in the urinary bladder. There may be a large, single stone or a collection of stones that range in size from sand-like grains to gravel. It is common for a mixture of both small and large stones to be present.

  • Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) is an acute life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with large amounts of air and then twists around effectively cutting off the outputs to the esophagus and intestine. It then continues to expand putting pressure on the mucosa, major vessels and diaphragm. Because of the constriction of major vessels returning to the heart, a dog will collapse from lack of oxygen and nutrients to vital organs. Underlying causes are still a mystery but most dogs affected are large breed, deep chested male dogs although any dog can experience GDV. There is a definite risk in dogs that have eaten large meals and then exercise. Bloat may be diagnosed by physical exam but radiographs and other testing is needed to show volvulus. Treatment involves decompressing the stomach with a stomach tube or a percutaneous catheter, shock treatment with IV fluids and emergency medications, surgery to correct the volvulus and identify and remove any necrotic areas of stomach or spleen. Mortality rate ranges from 15-40% in treated cases. There is no guaranteed prevention for GDV but gastropexy can reduce the risk. Attention to diet, feeding and exercise may also prevent gastric dilation.

  • There are many causes of limping and lameness in young dogs. Most of these are relatively minor and resolve without medical or surgical intervention. However, there are other causes that are more serious and, if not treated promptly, may result in permanent lameness or lead to debilitating arthritis.

  • Bowel incontinence refers to the loss of the ability to control bowel movements. There are two broad causes of fecal incontinence: reservoir incontinence and sphincter incontinence. In reservoir incontinence, intestinal disease interferes with the rectum’s ability to store normal volumes of feces. In sphincter incontinence, a structural or neurologic lesion prevents the anal sphincter from closing normally. Clinical signs, diagnostic testing, and treatment vary based upon the underlying cause.

  • Brachycephalic airway syndrome occurs in dogs that have anatomic abnormalities causing a more flat-faced appearance. These changes in anatomy cause restrictions in the dog's upper airways (including stenotic nares, elongated soft palate, nasopharyngeal turbinates, and hypoplastic trachea), and can eventually lead to everted laryngeal saccules and laryngeal collapse. Common signs of this condition are open mouth breathing and snoring, but can worsen, leading to exercise intolerance, coughing, gagging, or retching. Diagnosis of elongated soft palate, everted saccules and hypoplastic trachea requires deep sedation or general anesthesia. Dogs with this condition may require only corticosteroids, oxygen, and environmental management, but surgery to correct the palate, nares, and everted saccules may need to be performed. Prognosis is good to guarded depending on the severity of the disease but is greatly improved if the problem is noted and treated surgically in younger dogs.