Surgical Care


When your pet needs surgery, our veterinary hospitals take steps to minimize anesthetic risks and maximize surgical outcomes.

The following pet care services are covered in this section. Click any title to jump to that service:


Surgical Procedures at Family VetCare

Preparatory and surgery needs include:

Laboratory Testing

Your Veterinarian will run a preoperative test prior to anesthesia and surgery to determine your pet’s health status and minimize potential anesthetic risks. The preoperative blood panel includes a Complete Blood Count (CBC), testing for liver and kidney functions and certain panels include an analysis of blood-clotting abilities. The results of this test will help your Veterinarian risk assess your pet.

Pre-Surgical Examination

Upon admission to the hospital on the day of surgery, your Veterinarian will perform a complete Pre-Surgical Physical Examination to ensure that your pet is still in good health. We encourage you to ask your Veterinarian additional questions and discuss concerns you may have regarding your pet, the surgical procedure, medications, expectations and home care.

Pre-Anesthetic Medication

Pre-anesthetic agents are generally administered prior to surgery for preoperative pain control. The medication also helps to relax the patient.

IV Catheter

In preparation for surgery, an IV catheter will be placed in your pet’s leg. The IV catheter allows for the administration of fluids and medication.


To induce anesthesia, a short acting anesthetic medication is administered via the IV catheter. An endotrachael tube is placed in the anesthetized patient’s airway to keep it open and allow the administration of oxygen and gas anesthesia (Sevoflurane).

Surgical Procedure

Your Technician will first prepare the surgical site by setting up all equipment and selecting the instruments that will be used for your pet’s procedure. Then your pet is prepared for surgery by shaving and cleaning the surgical site. Our veterinarians scrub and dress (sterile gown, gloves, mask and cap) for the procedure. During surgery your Technician continually monitors your pet and records vitals , including heart rate and rhythm, the amount of oxygen in the blood, temperature, respiratory rate and depth of anesthesia. In addition to hands-on monitoring, electronic monitoring equipment is also used (Pulse-Oximeter, ECG and Doppler).


For most procedures, the incision is made with our surgical laser. The laser makes for a more comfortable and faster recovery period for your pet as it decreases bleeding, pain and swelling.

Pain Management

To ensure your pet is as comfortable as possible, pain medications are administered at three intervals: before, during and after surgery. We regularly send pain medication home to help keep your pet comfortable post-operatively.

Post Surgery Recovery

Your Technician will monitor your pet throughout the postoperative recovery period. After surgery you will receive a call to update you on your pet’s status after surgery and to confirm your discharge appointment time. You will be given a customized discharge packet that outlines how to care for your pet at home. An e-collar will be provided to help prevent self-inflicted damage to the surgical site. A Medical Progress Examination will be scheduled so your Veterinarian can check the progress of your pet’s recovery.

Dental Cleaning Procedures at Family VetCare

A dental prophylaxis is performed not only to clean the teeth, but also to evaluate the oral cavity for any other problems that might be present. The benefits of an anesthetic cleaning including cleaning what you can see and most importantly what you can’t see – under the gumline. In addition, the teeth are polished leaving the surface of the tooth smoother which slows the adherence of plaque bacteria in the future.

Before the prophylaxis begins the patient is given pain medications and placed under general anesthesia increasing the patients comfort and the effectiveness of the cleaning. Following are the steps taken for a Dental Prophylaxis.

Step 1: Supragingival Cleaning – We begin by cleaning the tooth surface. This is accomplished by using an ultrasonic scaler.

Step 2: Subgingival Cleaning – We then clean the area beneath the gum line, one of the most important and yet most overlooked steps. The subgingival bacterial is what leads to periodontal disease (a permanent disease affecting the gums and bones around the teeth). Cleaning the tooth surface will make the teeth look nice; however it is the subgingival cleaning that makes your pet healthier and allows them to live longer and happier lives.

Step 3: Polishing – The mechanical removal of the plaque and calculus causes microscopic roughening of the tooth surface. The roughening promotes build up of plaque and calculus, which in turn increases the progression of periodontal disease. Polishing the teeth smoothes the surface therefore decreases the adhesive ability of plaque.

Step 4: Subgingival / Sulcal Lavage – Scaling and polishing of the teeth causes debris to become trapped under the gums. This causes local inflammation and the increased risk of future periodontal disease. We gently flush the gingiva with an antibacterial solution.

Step 5: Fluoride Treatment – Fluoride strengthens the dentin which decreases tooth sensitivity and plaque buildup.

Step 6: Treatment Plan – We evaluate periodontal pockets during the oral exam. Using these findings, your Veterinarian can identify chronically infected teeth and develop an oral treatment plan for your pet.

Step 7: Dental Charting – The oral findings, treatments rendered and future treatments planned are placed on a dental chart in your pet’s medical record. This allows your Veterinarian to follow your pet’s progress (or regression).

Step 8: Digital Oral Radiographs – Similar to the experience people have at a dentist, the proper assessment of teeth requires dental radiographs and periodontal probing. While under anesthesia, these tools help us identify areas of pain or infection that need medical attention. Two thirds of a pet’s tooth is under the gingiva (gums) and are not viewable without radiographs. Dental radiographs help in the assessment of: the teeth (fractures or internal disease), the surrounding soft tissues (periodontal disease, stomatitis, cysts, draining tracks, facial swellings, fistulas or tumors), the joints (TMJ or mandibular symphysis) and the bone (jaw fractures).

Regular professional dental cleanings are the first step in helping to extend the life of your pet. It’s important to know that within 24 hours of a professional cleaning plaque has already started to form on the teeth, and the periodontal disease process begins again. Home Care is your role in helping to prevent dental disease in your pet. Feeding a dry or crunchy diet (ask about Science Diet t/d) will stimulate gums and help clean exposed tooth surfaces. Brushing your pet’s teeth daily will help reduce plaque and calculus buildup at and beneath the gum line. When it is all said and done professional dental cleanings and proper dental home-care will help your pet live a healthier and longer life.