“Cutting” to the Chase

Most Frequently Asked Questions about Surgery and Your Pets

“Surgery” can be a scary word. It’s understandable. The body’s ‘natural state’ does not involve elected trauma to tissue and anesthesia. However, these procedures are often unavoidable for the overall health of our fur-kiddos, whether it be a spay, neuter, mass removal, broken bone, torn cruciate, or any number of other procedures.

The purpose of this blog is to ideally minimize fears about your pet undergoing the necessary surgery, and to answer any commonly asked questions you might have. While it can be a scary thought, at Blue Ridge we take your pets’ well-being, health, and pain control seriously. So let us know how we can help at any time, or if you have any concerns before, during or after the procedure.

  1. Do we have to do this surgery?

    • If this is a concern, ask us. We are happy to explain why we recommend each individual procedure. For instance, in the case of spaying a female dog, we are able to eliminate unwanted pregnancy and prevent pyometra. For neutering male dogs, this could actually increase their life expectancy! Intact male dogs have a lower life expectancy not because of medical complications, but because of their tendency to roam to find female dogs. This leads to a higher risk of motor vehicle accidents and other concerns. Obviously each surgery and each patient is different, so let us address that with you if there is a concern.
  2. How long will (s)he be under anesthesia?

      • This also depends on the procedure. Neutering a male (that does not have a testicle in the belly) dog takes less time than a spay because we do not have to enter the abdominal cavity, or the belly. With this, recovery time for any procedure entering the belly will take longer than one that is not. Bleeding would be more likely in these dogs as well.
      • More involved surgeries such as an orthopedic procedure or an exploratory of the belly often takes much more time! The skill necessary as well as the risks warrant extra caution by the surgeon and the surgical team.
      • Mass removals will depend on the size of the mass, the location, and what the mass might be. For example, mast cell tumors, even if they are small, would suggest to take 2cm around that particular mass. That means that a 1cm mass would have at least 5cm removed from that area. That’s a BIG area! Your treatment plan will often estimate the amount of time necessary.

  3.  What is the recovery time?

    •   Scar tissue takes AT least 10-14 days to form. This means that you pet should be leashed walked during this time. Avoid letting him or her run free. This is VERY important for
      any incision that goes into the abdominal cavity.
    •   Orthopedic or abdominal surgeries may have longer recovery times. While the incision will heal, the importance of the bone healing or the inside incision is of the utmost concern.
  4. Will there be sutures?

    • There will be sutures of some kind. Sometimes these sutures are buried and you don’t see them. Here at Blue Ridge, we usually do both. Outside sutures allow us to recheck their incision in 10-14 days. They also give us an ‘extra layer’ of protection for the incision.
  5. Will (s)he need a ‘cone of shame?’

    • For any of our procedures, we recommend using the elizabethan cone or similar devices to ensure there are no complications with the surgery site. When a human gets surgery, the lucky surgeon generally does not have to worry about them licking or chewing the incision. However, they still use dressing and emphasize caution about getting the area wet or dirty. The same holds true for our furry pets and their surgeries. Let’s help them as much as possible prevent complications!
    • Keep in mind there are now other options besides the cone! There are special surgery shirts, different types of cones (the zen cone is an option), and surgical wraps. If you know that your kiddo would be a chewer, licker, or incision-irritator, look into getting these BEFORE the surgical procedure takes place!

What other questions would you have before a surgery? Ask us or let us know and we can update our blog!

In the end (‘cutting’ to the chase), we know that surgery can be scary – we are pet parents too! So help us eliminate whatever concerns you might have by asking questions. Also, recognize that not all hospitals ‘do surgery’ the same. If you are at a hospital with which you are unfamiliar, ask questions you may not think to ask such as: are you AAHA accredited? Will my pet have a catheter in place? Will a nurse be dedicated to do the monitoring? Do you have strict pain control guidelines? Do you send pain medications home? Does my pet receive IV fluids during the procedure to help prevent dehydration and low blood pressure? Does my pet have EKG, SPO2, and blood pressure monitored during the procedure? Will their temperature be monitored until discharge? Will blood work be performed prior to the procedure? All these questions and following these guidelines reduce risk associated with any anesthetic procedure.


Thank you as always for allowing us to serve you and your beloved pets! Our goal is to help your pets Live Long and Live Well! We could not do that without you.

The Answer’s in the Blood…

The holidays are over, the cold is setting in, and it’s time for some much needed rest from the craziness! So why not stop by the Blue Ridge Animal Hospital blog for some exciting entertainment and knowledge?!

This month’s blog will be bloody! We are going to discuss a general overview of blood work. While this may not sound exciting, it is one of the major questions we get asked about routinely and perform on a daily basis. So here are some FAQs:

Why do blood work?

Great question since most of us aren’t always aware what those numbers and letters represent. It can be confusing! We also talk about blood work when your pet is feeling healthy and normal. Why would we do that?!

The point of blood work is to get a clearer picture in general of your pet. It allows us to investigate underlying functions that we may not be able to see in the general exam. And if your pet is feeling well? These values can give us a baseline of normal for you pet, or often times it can alert us to potential problems early so they can be addressed!  Prevention has been shown to be one of the major ways to increase your fur-baby’s life expectancy and even quality of life, which I think is something we would all like to do

What does it show?

There are MANY types of blood panels and testing that can be done. Specialized testing is pursued based on your particular pet and concerns. However, general testing is just that, a general overview of how the body is functioning overall.

The parts of the general blood test generally includes the following. Please keep in mind these are generalized descriptions, and do not cover all the components of these panels.


This test allows us to look at the components of the blood itself, namely the white blood cells, red blood cells, the distribution and shape of these cells, and the platelets. These become important when looking for things like anemia (red blood cells) or infection/inflammation (white blood cells).


These look at how well the organs are functioning in general. They specifically look at liver, gallbladder, kidney, and often electrolytes. Contrary to popular belief, they cannot tell us if cancer is present. They do however give us an idea of the health of these individual organs at that specific time.

Thyroid: High thyroid in cats and low thyroid in dogs can be surprisingly common conditions. This test is included in many pet’s normal blood work over 7 years of age, or if symptoms are noted.

Urine – While we realize this isn’t blood, it is often included in blood panels to give a more complete picture.

4DX or FIV/FeLV: 4dx stands for the 4 things being tested: heartworm, lyme, ehrlichia, and anaplasma. These are the 3 major tick-borne diseases along with heartworm disease. FIV/FeLV and even heartworm in cats stands for feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus.


What if I don’t want to know? I can’t do anything about it, right?

This is an incredibly common question, and we really do understand it. If you can’t fix a problem, why know about it? The good news is that many of these ‘problems’ can be addressed or even improved upon. The benefits of routine screening is to find these concerns early so that we can make a bigger difference earlier. For instance, animals found to have kidney disease are known to live at least 3 times longer if started on a specific diet early in their condition rather than later. For some, that’s the difference between 1 year and 3 years. For cats with thyroid concerns, addressing their thyroid can prevent such issues as heart disease and high blood pressure before they become a problem. Diabetes is on the rise in our fur-kids too. Starting insulin early can prevent worsening of all signs of diabetes.

These are just some examples of what we find or what we are looking for when performing this blood work. Not all the time do we expect to find major conditions, but we can often see things we can start monitoring early as well.

The benefit of this knowledge can increase your pet’s life expectancy and overall understanding of their health. That sounds like some pretty good odds to us, right?!


Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to share this with us. Sometimes trying to find the best topic to address can be a little difficult. Sometimes we don’t always know what you are interested in knowing! So if you have something you want addressed, ask so we can tailor these to your questions!

It’s Blog Time!


Welcome to our Blue Ridge Pet Blog!

We are glad to have you here and hope you enjoy the pages to come!

At Blue Ridge, we decided to start blogging in order to address some of the most common concerns, questions, and overall health concerns owners tend to have about their beloved fur children. Over the weeks we will address such pet parent ponderings as pet obesity, dental health, vaccines, behavior, blood testing and what it means, acupuncture and eastern medicine, what AAHA accreditation means to our clinic (and you), tick borne diseases…the possibilities are endless.

Do you have a question or topic you would like addressed in these pages? What have you been wondering about?

Please check back with us weekly for the adventure to begin.