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Surgical Conditions

  • Cats are curious by nature, which can lead them into trouble, especially when they ingest items not meant to be eaten, such as thread, wool, paper, rubber bands, plant materials, and small toys. While some will pass through the digestive tract, some foreign bodies can cause serious problems. This handout explains foreign bodies in the intestinal tracts of cats and reviews clinical signs, diagnostic tests, treatment, and the prognosis of these situations.

  • One of the more common and potentially life-threatening conditions seen in veterinary practice is foreign body obstruction. Some foreign bodies pass through the intestinal tract, but if an obstruction occurs, surgical removal of the blocked object is the only treatment. Clinical signs may include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and lethargy. X-rays are typically performed to diagnose foreign bodies. The prognosis is variable depending upon multiple factors.

  • A hernia occurs when a body part or internal organ protrudes through the wall of muscle or tissue meant to contain it. In the case of an inguinal hernia, these internal organs or structures have managed to make their way through the inguinal ring (an opening in the abdominal wall near the pelvis) to protrude into the groin area. The condition itself can be broadly classified as either acquired or congenital. In general, it is best to surgically repair an inguinal hernia at the time of diagnosis, as delaying can result in a more complicated and difficult procedure.

  • Otitis interna is a serious condition that can cause significant signs in your cat, including drooling from the side of the mouth, difficulty eating, inability to blink, and drooping eyelids, lips, and nostrils on the affected side. Treatment may involve long-term medications if the underlying cause can be identified, such as bacterial or fungal infection. Less commonly, surgery may be needed. Many cats will respond to treatment and recover well.

  • Otitis interna is a serious condition that can cause significant signs in your dog, including reluctance to eat, head tilt, alteration in balance, and reduced hearing on the affected side. Treatment could involve long-term medications if the specific cause can be identified, such as bacterial or fungal infection. Less commonly, surgery may be needed. Many dogs will respond to treatment and recover well.

  • A joint luxation is a dislocation or complete separation between the bones that normally articulate to form a joint. Subluxation is the term referring to a partial separation of the joint. The most commonly subluxated joint in cats is the hip, although any joint can be affected. Your veterinarian may be suspicious of a joint subluxation based on a history of trauma and physical examination findings such as pain and limping. A radiograph is necessary to definitively diagnose a joint subluxation. In many cases, the joint can be reduced or replaced to its original orientation by a procedure called a closed reduction with prognosis being good if treated immediately.

  • A joint luxation is a dislocation or complete separation between the bones that normally articulate to form a joint. Subluxation is the term referring to a partial separation of the joint. The most commonly subluxated joints in dogs include the hip and elbow, although any joint can be affected. Your veterinarian may be suspicious of a joint subluxation based on a history of trauma and physical examination findings such as pain and limping. A radiograph is necessary to definitively diagnose a joint subluxation. In many cases, the joint can be reduced or replaced to its original orientation by a procedure called a closed reduction with prognosis being good if treated immediately.

  • Juvenile hyperparathyroidism is a rare, inherited condition of German Shepherds and leads to a constant state of elevated parathyroid hormone, affecting calcium and phosphorus balance within the body. It is an inherited, autosomal recessive trait that causes stunted growth. Removal of anywhere from one to three of the parathyroid glands is performed to bring the calcium levels into a more normal range.

  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is a condition that is also commonly referred to as dry eye. It is a common eye condition resulting from inadequate production of the aqueous portion of the tear film by the lacrimal gland or the third eyelid gland. Any condition that impairs the ability to produce adequate amounts of tear film can result in dry eye. Most dogs with KCS have painful, red, and irritated eyes leading to squinting. The treatment of dry eye is to stimulate tear production and to replace tear film. The prognosis for dogs diagnosed with KCS has never been better.

  • Lameness refers to an inability to properly use one or more limbs. It is most often associated with pain or injury. The most common causes of acute or sudden lameness in dogs are soft tissue injury (strain or sprain), injury to a joint, bone fracture, or dislocation. Osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia may also cause lameness in dog. Your veterinarian will determine the best course of action based on your pet's condition and the results of diagnostic tests. Lameness of unknown origin is common in dogs of all types and sizes. In some cases, a trial with anti-inflammatory medications may be necessary.