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What Questions Should I ask my Vet Before Surgery?

My six-month-old, 3.5 pound Chihuahua is due for spaying. I am nervous about complications. How do I know if my vet does a good job?...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Jun 19th 2008


My six-month-old, 3.5 pound Chihuahua is due for
spaying. I am nervous about complications. How do
I know if my vet does a good job? What is the
difference between my vet and a pet pal
rescue-spaying clinic (it is less expensive)?

Robin
St. Petersburg, FL

This is a very good question. The overwhelming majority of spays and neuters performed by veterinarians do not lead to major complications. Nonetheless, the risk of complications exists any time a pet undergoes surgery. Your desire to minimize that risk is very understandable.

Here is what I recommend: ask your vet some questions.

Surgeries performed by experienced vets generally have lower rates of complications than those performed by vets fresh out of school. Ask your vet how long she has been practicing. Ask her how many spays she has performed.

As well, surgical safety precautions vary widely among veterinary facilities. Does your vet run blood tests before surgery to ensure that your pet’s organs are functioning properly? Does she give IV fluids to help support blood pressure? Does she monitor heart rate, blood oxygenation levels, and blood pressure continuously throughout surgery? Does she provide thermal support to prevent low body temperature? Is she aggressive and proactive about treating pain? Does she use the most modern and safest forms of anesthesia?

The only way to know whether your vet does these things is to ask her. You can ask the same questions at the rescue-spaying clinic. Once you have the answers you will be able to make an informed decision that is in the best interest of your dog.