Yaletown Pet Hospital has a fully equipped surgery where the doctors perform a wide variety of procedures from minor lump removals to exploratory procedures and orthopaedics. While spays and neuters are the most commonly performed surgeries at the clinic, they are by no means all we do.

While the thought of your pet going ‘under the knife’ can be stressful for you, the pet owner, the doctors at YPH will be happy to discuss the procedure being recommended and answer any questions you may have. Some minor procedures can be done with just a local anaesthetic, and if this is the case, you may even be able to sit in on the procedure and provide calming support to your pet. If sedation or a general anaesthetic is recommended, you’ll be asked to drop your pet off for the procedure at the appointed time. He or she will spend anywhere from a few hours to the full day with us for the procedure.


Jessie tends to patient in recovery area

Jessie helps a patient settle in before surgery

After drop off, your pet will be checked into one of our hospital kennels or runs and allowed to settle in. An examination will be performed if one hasn’t been done recently. After this, a blood sample will be collected (if one hasn’t been checked recently) and tested on our in-house blood analyzer. (‘Please add ‘diagnostics’ link here). If all looks normal, then your pet will be given a pre-med injection- a combination of medications that will help stabilize the patient’s heart rate and blood pressure, sedate the patient, and provide some pre-emptive pain control- if we desensitize pain receptors prior to surgery, it makes the recovery period much smoother and easier on the patient.

Your pet will then have an IV catheter placed and he or she will be started on IV fluids for at least a half hour prior to surgery. Fluids will continue through the surgery and recovery periods and will help maintain blood pressure and proper circulation. The catheter also gives us immediate access to your pet’s circulatory system for rapid administration of medications should any problems arise during the anaesthetic.

Pre-surgical preparation

Alex adjusts a patient's blood pressure sensor before prepping for surgery

Your pet will then be prepped for surgery- we will induce anaesthesia with one or a combination of injectable medications which will result in a state of heavy sedation. An endotracheal tube will be placed in your pet’s trachea (windpipe) to deliver the anaesthetic gas and oxygen that will maintain the anaesthetic. A blood pressure monitor will be hooked up, and the patient placed on a heated surface to help maintain body temperature while under anaesthetic. The surgery site will be shaved and scrubbed to make it as sterile as possible and minimize the risk of infection. Depending on the nature of the procedure and how much pain the surgery is anticipated to create, additional pain medications may be started at this time. All surgeries will cause some degree of post-surgical pain, and if we can minimize this before, during, and after thew procedure, you will have a happier pet, a smoother recovery, and a faster healing time.

In surgery with Dr Spooner

Jessie assists while Dr Spooner performs surgery

While the patient is being prepped, the doctor is also scrubbing and gowning for surgery. The patient is moved into surgery, positioned to allow maximum exposure to the surgery site, and a final surgical prep is done. The length of the surgery depends entirely on the complexity of the case. A spay or neuter may take only 15 or 20 minutes whereas an orthopaedic procedure may take up to a couple hours. Regardless, there is an assistant on duty at all times monitoring the patient’s vital signs including heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, and body temperature.


Parker recovering in a dog run post-surgery

Parker taking his time waking up after his neuter

When the surgery is finished, your pet will be moved to the recovery period where an assistant will watch the patient closely until the endotracheal tube can be removed an your pet is breathing safely on its own. After a few hours of ‘wake up time’ your pet will be discharged- one of our assistants will go over post-surgical home care instructions, review any medications your pet may be going home with, and discuss any follow-up visits that may be necessary.

Someone from the clinic will call the following day to check in on your pet’s recovery, but you are welcome to call or e-mail us anytime to discuss any concerns you may have.

If a surgical case arises that we don’t feel comfortable performing here- a difficult orthopaedic case like a spinal surgery, or an inavsive tumour removal- we will be pleased to set up a referral appointment to one of the specialty practices in the Lower Mainland offering surgical specialists.