The Only Locally-Owned Emergency and Specialty Hospital in Minnesota

5 Most Common Pet Surgeries at AERC

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Every day, our Surgery Service performs a variety of pet surgeries! From scheduled procedures to emergency situations, our patients keep us on our toes! Understandably so, many of our clients are curious to know which surgeries we do the most and why these procedures are needed by our pets. So, we decided to share the list of Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota’s five most common surgeries! 

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1. ACL Surgery 

One of the most common orthopedic injuries we see in dogs is rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL or ACL) in the knee. This leads to lameness, instability, and progressive arthritis. The procedure we do most often at AERC to address this injury is a Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO), which involves making a curved cut in the tibia, rotating the bone, and stabilizing it with a plate and screws. This changes the biomechanics of the knee and eliminates instability.  

Dogs stay one night after surgery and require 8-12 weeks of activity restriction. Most dogs do great with this procedure and are back to running and playing several months after surgery!

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2. Oncologic Surgery    

This is a broad category, but removal of tumors from all over the body makes up a large portion of our surgeries. We frequently perform removal of tumors associated with the lungs, liver, thyroid and parathyroid glands, skin, spleen, anal sac gland, and more!  

With these cases, we work closely with our Oncology Service before and after surgery to help identify if the cancer has spread. Some masses are benign, and surgery can be curative. Other masses are malignant, meaning they are likely to spread elsewhere (metastasis), and we recommend follow-up for chemotherapy through our Oncology Service. 

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3. Perineal Urethrostomy 

Male cats can be predisposed to feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). These cases are usually managed with diet and environmental modifications. However; in cases where there are repeat incidents of urinary obstruction despite medical management, we perform a procedure known as a perineal urethrostomy (PU) surgery. This involves widening the opening of the urethra so that a life-threatening obstruction is less likely to occur. 

For 2-3 weeks after surgery, cats require special litter and MUST wear an E-collar while the surgery site heals.  Long-term management remains necessary to prevent inflammation.

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4. GI Foreign Body Surgery  

Emergency surgeries make up a large percentage of cases performed by our Surgery Service, and the most common emergency surgery is the removal of gastrointestinal foreign bodies. It is amazing what dogs and cats will eat! We have removed tennis balls, pacifiers, string, socks, rocks, corn cobs – you name it! To remove these items,  we usually make an incision in either the stomach (known as a gastrotomy) or small intestines (known as an enterotomy) over the foreign body. If the bowel appears unhealthy or perforated, then it’s necessary to remove the abnormal bowel loop (known as a resection and anastomosis).  

These GI surgery cases usually require the patient to stay 1-2 days in-hospital, pending their appetite and comfort level post-surgery.  

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5. Fracture Repair 

We often see dogs and cats with broken bones, especially in the warmer months. Fractures can occur at any age and happen after trauma such as being hit by a car or landing awkwardly while playing or jumping.  The most common repair is with a plate and screws. How the fracture is repaired depends on where it is (what bone and what part of the bone) and in how many pieces.  

Surgery recovery usually requires 8-12 weeks of activity restriction. Recheck x-rays are performed between 4-8 weeks post-surgery to evaluate healing before allowing the pet to return to normal activity.  

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There you have it! Those are the five most common surgeries at Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota! We hope you are reviewing this list for curiosity’s sake, but if your pet does need one of these surgeries – or any type of surgery – we recommend reading our general post-operative care tips 

Learn more about our Surgery Service here. 

Katherine Meyers, VMD, DACVS-SA


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