Have you ever wondered why there is sometimes a difference in the cost of care between veterinary clinics or surgical facilities? Though it will be outside the scope of a one-page article to address all of the reasons, I hope to address many of them and to help you compare veterinary practices based on an "apples to apples" line of reasoning instead of trying to compare "apples to oranges".
I would like to provide you with a spay/Neuter/Declaw/Surgery/Dental Question Checklist that you can use to help assure that your pet will have the safest, most comfortable, stress-free experience possible. Do not be afraid to ask these questions - they are important! A good veterinarian will welcome them and will know that you are an educated, concerned pet parent! The choice of any health care professional needs to be based on the quality of care received. The incredible importance of this choice is most critical when deciding who will be performing a surgical or anesthetic procedure on your beloved family pet.
Is the facility clean, odor-free and well-maintained? Am I able to take a tour of the surgical and recovery areas?
Will your pet's blood work be checked pre-operatively to make certain their liver and kidneys are functioning normally and able to withstand anesthetic? Is this included in the estimate?
Will your pet receive unnecessary post-operative antibiotics for a spay, neuter or declaw? Performed properly, these surgeries should almost never be associated with post-operative infections.
What types of pain medications and anesthetics are being used and why? Butorphanol is not effective pain relief whereas buprenorphine is. Declawing is an extremely painful procedure when appropriate, multimodal pain medications are not used. Multimodal techniques treat pain using different pathways.
Are IV fluids included in the estimate? Will a fluid pump be used so the dose is accurate?
Is the staff friendly, knowledgeable and willing to answer all of your questions?
Will a technician be actively monitoring your pet's vital signs (Pulse, Respiration, Temperature, Anesthetic, Pain Levels) during surgery, and be directly present by your pet's side when waking up?
Will your pet be kept warm before, during and after surgery? Temperature checked?
Will individual use sterile/autoclaved instruments, gowns, gloves, suture packs (not reels) be used?
What type of monitoring equipment (in addition to a technician physically monitoring) will be used to ensure my pet's safety? Pulse Oximeter, Heart rate monitor, ECG?
Does the veterinary surgeon understand that pets feel pain in the same way that people do, but do not show signs of pain in the same way? Are they using up-to-date, multimodal anesthesia and
Will your pet be intubated (tube placed in the windpipe) to ensure their ability to breathe during surgery?
How much continuing education do the veterinarians and staff engage in? Is it as important to them as it is to you that your pet receive the safest, most effective anesthetic and pain relief protocols?
Dr. Richelle Smith
Safe Harbor Animal Hospital
4547 Cascade Rd. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49546