Hmm, yes and no to many of the responses on this vet subject. This is going to be long!! I am not saying this to offend anyone. Between the starred info is what our clinic does and how things are handled. IF you want to "bless me out" for it - don't read it and go to another post!
I have had issues with my current vet - who actually is no longer doing large animal, individual farm calls. For that, with her blessing, I have switched vet clinics that can come out to our farm. So far, they've been out 2x in the past 12 months for routine visits, however, they don't do cats or dogs like all my previous horse/farm vets have.
WHY is other vet no longer doing farm calls? Because she purchased and is now running the Spay Neuter Veterinary Clinic of the Sandhills. I do actually work for her there. We schedule 60 cats/dogs; female/male per day, 3 days/ week for 2 vets and 32 animals 1 day/week for 1 vet (it does vary - depending on vets' schedules, holidays etc). The clinic opened in 2008 and just hit 50,000 surgeries in NOVEMBER 2015. Myself, our other receptionist, office manager and vet techs are there 10+ hours a day. The vets are - the owner who lives about 12 miles from the clinic, a vet that drives about 5 miles one way from local community and a 3rd vet that drives about 65 miles 1 way from the north. The vets aren't there every day OR the same amount of time the rest of us are (Owner usually is - whether performing surgery or not) but they do rotate who is on-call and available for ER/questions after hours 24 hours/day 7days/week 365 days/year. WE are closed for surgeries on Friday, Saturday & Sunday. But Clinic owner still does large and small animal vaccine clinics throughout the year in different areas - some of us volunteer for those. We just "lost" a vet after Christmas that traveled about 80 miles 1 way (good job offer in her town). The clinic is a LOW COST clinic that operates in a county that ALSO helps individuals on Food Stamps, Medicaid, WIC & Section 8 housing. That means that if they provide a copy of their proof and fill out their forms, we do their surgeries for no charge. We actually have folks that bring their dogs/cats from the surrounding 11 counties and even from South Carolina, Virginia and Florida. The clinic only charges about 1/2 the actual cost of the spay/neuter surgery - because the other half is paid for by donations, fund raising and grants. We do give rabies vaccinations ($7) and can do microchips ($20) thru the Home Again system and for Rescues that provide them will also "install" their microchips for a nominal fee ($5). Costs are kept down - we don't have Xray or Ultrasound machines, spare meds, don't see animals for other issues (can't due to State/Federal contracts actually), do not have EXTRA personnel to constantly monitor the pet as a regular vet hospital does, do not have a separate anesthesiologist, do not remove the scrotal sack of a male animal, A LOT OF WORK IS DONE by our very much LOVED VOLUNTEERS who do some of the nastiest jobs FOR FREE - I know I'm missing some things, but... We are currently interviewing both vets (would like 1 part time & 1 part time/back up) and techs (2 part time). The problem - we don't pay much and the hours are long/hard and stressful - would be less so if we had both another vet and another tech again.
What we have is a surgical clean room with 3 surgery tables & the Oxygen setups for the smallest kitten to the largest dog (I've been told that a local zoo also brought in Tiger cubs to be done - more than 3 years ago - before I started working here); 2 prep tables in our prep area - also with oxygen sets, counter space - empty underneath allowing occupied feral cat traps to be put under them, a microwave - used to heat IV solution, hot socks, cabinet storage above and below counters with a double sink, a small milk bath unit/sterilizer next to the sinks, a small under cabinet fridge for some of the drugs, 1 IV rack & a full set of 4 IV bags (dogs/cats rarely get them at our clinic but they can and we do keep this); a dog room with individual stainless steel kennels, a double sink, counter space and cabinets under it all; a cat room with individual stainless steel kennels also with a double sink, counter space and cabinet storage underneath (each room w/ doors that close and some sound proofing - they aren't next to each other - cats/dogs have no access to each other); a back room that has a wash area (raised tub) for dirty pets, 3 large rolling kennels for large dogs with perforated removable floor panels, 2 commercial washers & dryers, cabinet storage, chest freezer, storage for cat traps & collapsible dog kennels if necessary; a "rabies pole"; a small office that was a break room for the techs and is now my office and a storage area with a small sink; a lobby with chairs for the clients and a receptionist desk with storage; an office for the office manager & vets/owner that closes but has a large picture window they can view from; a public restroom with 2 stalls and a separate sink; another restroom which is now a storage room and home to the Autoclave machine(sterilizes surgery instrument packs & just replaced when installed in new room - our cost was about $12,000 - we are a NON PROFIT vet clinic - that money was hard to come by but necessary!!); a small kitchen with a sink/counters, refrigerator, table & 3 chairs for eating/sitting down, a water fountain w/ purchased water by the clinic, a coffee pot (donated) and cabinets for storage; the drugs for anesthesia (regulated, licensed and tracked by bottle number and amounts used/not used & given), IV pain meds for cats; IV pain meds for dogs; noninflammatory drugs that go home with dogs (liquid form for small dogs/ pills for med/large dogs); ONLY 2 TYPES of antibiotics - IF a pet is brought in with skin issues that can be a problem at the incision site OR comes back in with the start of an infection due to wrong care; cleaning supplies for the pet, cleaning supplies for the surgery room, cleaning supplies for the other rooms... All animals go home the same day, we don't keep them overnight. We don't have the staff or really the room when back to back days of 60 animals are scheduled.
IF a person read our Admin form and our After Care Instructions - they are pretty clear in requirements and care instructions AND HOW TO CONTACT US AFTER HOURS/WEEK ENDS. Those forms are available to anyone from our website as well as presented during an appointment and release of the pet. We also separately email and/or mail them to those that request them.
So - we deal with Humane Societies, Animal Control & Rescues every day, dogs just taken "from the streets" and dogs/cats that are feral and literally "mean" & angry as well as DANGEROUS... We work with the Animal Controls in all counties whom we've received animals from. We have clients all the time, who do not follow the simple instructions that are sent home with them.
We start spaying/neutering dogs/cats at 3 months (12 weeks) of age as long as they are over 2 pounds. We do dogs and cats that are in heat EVERY DAY. We do surgeries on PREGNANT animals every day (kittens and puppies are humanely euthanized). Owner has to be informed that their pet was pregnant BECAUSE THE CARE CAN BE DIFFERENT and RECOVERY can TAKE LONGER. They do not have to know "how many babies" their pet was carrying and we don't tell UNLESS asked.
In all actuality, for our vets and with young, non-pregnant dogs and cats - spaying is a simple and pretty quick procedure HOWEVER it is still invasive surgery! For animals that have had multiple litters, or are pregnant - the surgery can take a bit longer as the uterus is larger, there are active blood vessels that bleed and have to be surgically tied off upon removal of uterus. For the 12 weeks (& longer) post birth of puppies or kittens - a "mamma" has a more fragile uterus which bleeds more OR can tear while being removed. She also has milk in the mammary glands - lots of moisture (more on that in a bit). We will not do a female at less than 12 weeks postpartum due to not having the staff or the equipment needed to deal with potential problems and the associated higher risks and YES both dogs and especially cats can get pregnant again during that time frame. A female in heat also has an enlarged uterus w/ more blood vessels in preparation for a pregnancy. These take a bit longer to do the surgery on but it most certainly isn't hours. Some of our vets DO have special considerations. One, a guy, is taller. He has larger hands - we limit how many female dogs under 20 pounds on his days. He simply can't move his hands after doing all the small work for more than a few surgeries. He is also allergic to cats (!!) - so he always either works with another vet that can do the vet exam on cats OR we on occasion schedule only dog days (one 2x in my 2 1/2 years so far). He doesn't neuter male cats (not covered in surgery). Another vet, a woman, refused to do any female animal over 9 months of age - do you know how hard it can be to schedule days of 8 female dogs & 8 female cats that are all under 9 months of age and not pregnant (on a 1 dr day)?? She thought doing those surgeries were "gross" and she returned to private vet practice where she could opt NOT to do surgeries. We do get vet students for externship (not paid) that are sometimes with us long enough to do surgeries themselves un-assisted. Those weeks are quite nice actually - and I've wished we could have rotating interns (both the vets and the techs DO NOT - those are heavy training times and sometimes seem to be longer/harder though our overall day usually ends sooner)...
Before surgery, dogs are given medication that cause them to evacuate their bowels, bladders and stomachs. For the folks that forget and feed their animals breakfast or left food out all night for them - it's miserable for the dogs and the TECHS and the VOLUNTEERS. YES, we then go thru and CLEAN ALL OF THE KENNELS. With some that can be done while they are still in the kennel (meaning that pet will be cleaner since the drugs and evacuating also make them sleepy and want to lay down) and w/ others we have to wait until they get pulled out for prep/surgery. Many of these dogs have never been anywhere or been socialized and the stress sometimes causes explosive diarrhea as well... I have actually held many a dog over the trash can - making his/her kennel more pleasant for both them and us!! Female dogs then have their bladders completely drained during prep (males don't). Cats don't get meds to evacuate everything and in fact, if they get sick, they may not have surgery. We have had owners opt not to do surgery if they know that their animal has eaten (better - that way they don't aspirate food particles into their lungs while intubated). Others just don't seem to understand or to care ("O, but he always gets so upset when he doesn't get his morning chow-chow").
The sutures used by our vet clinic ARE water soluble - meaning that the body will absorb it (in 99.99 % of spays/neuters, we will never see the animal again). The more moisture in the areas due to pregnancy, in heat, or nursing OR obesity - the faster the sutures will dissolve. So, some animals (not all) will have staples utilized on the outside of an incision to keep it closed longer to facilitate healing. That animal should go home with an e-collar to prevent them from reaching/pulling out & potentially ingesting the staples. They are not required to get one from us, but we do highly recommend that they do. Ours are less cost than the ones at Tractor Supply, Pet Smart, Pet Sense & Pet Co - all local. The staples need to be pulled between 10-14 days after surgery and we do that service for no charge.
No one is required to purchase/take home an e-collar but I can tell you thru experience that it is both a great savings and a huge problem! My own animals have hated them. I have personally found that the animals that "flip out" the worst, are also the ones who will be the most susceptible to causing an infection at the incision site due to not leaving it alone if you remove the collar. I had ONE cat that managed to get hers off and I had to take her back to the clinic BECAUSE she caused her incision to open up AND to get infected (licking/chewing at incision site in less then 48 hours after original surgery). They had to re-sedate her ($25 - did not have to intubate her or do a full surgery) in order to lay her back out flat and CLEAN UP/cut off the infected tissue and then to close and re-suture it. I then purchased the antibiotics recommended ($20) and went home to treat her - NOT FUN and I have had animals for MANY YEARS. Not a full week later - I had to take her back AGAIN. They(the vet clinic and 2 vets that worked on her) did NOTHING WRONG OR DIFFERENT from any other client. It was just this particular cat (kitten @ 4 months of age)! The 2nd time to return, she was a sullen little witch - growling, hissing and suddenly OUT (another $25). This time, she left her collar alone, she left the incision alone and it healed! Let me tell you, horses are so much easier to treat for injuries or after surgery!
Animals 7 yrs of age and older are considered geriatric and we highly recommend that they go to a REGULAR vet HOSPITAL for a blood work up and heart check up to make sure that they will be OK with anesthesia and will WAKE UP from surgery (and just that can run into $200 or more especially the older the animal is. It cost me $300 to have a 7 yr old mini Aussie rescued from a puppy mill checked at a different vet hospital only to find out they didn't feel that she was anywhere close to 7 yrs of age, however, she had had lots of litters/puppies and her poor body and mammary area showed it. Blood work and heart checkup GREAT but costly to me.). The owners are not required to do that, however they will then sign a pretty lengthy surgical waiver - waiving our responsibility should anything go wrong. Our vets still have the final say as to whether they will do a surgery or not - and there are days where there may be 60 animals there but only 50 have surgery after being checked in and put in it's individual kennel. The reasons are many - too thin, too obese, coughing/runny nose/eyes (upper respiratory infection is dangerous in surgery when animal is intubated and on oxygen), severe skin issues - some of which can denote internal issues, a heart murmur on a young animal, a raised temp or pulse that doesn't return to normal sometimes due just to stress caused by coming into the clinic. An animal with a known problem with hips/back (needs to have a full exam by hospital QUALIFIED to do so before our vets will do that surgery) usually will not be done. All animals are on their backs during surgery. IF a dog has been known to have Parvo and owner states that - we turn them away until they have documented proof from a REGULAR VET HOSPITAL that the animal is all clear and has been for the required period. Last year, we had a responsible owner/breeder call us and let us know that one of their pups, a sibling of one they'd just had spayed with us the week previous had developed Parvo. That was great for us but also a NIGHTMARE as we shut down for a length of time - I believe we were closed for 2 weeks (8 days of surgeries had to be rescheduled - w/ screaming/crying owners wanting to know why, which we could not discuss).
SO... there is both a lot and not much to a pet's spay or neuter surgery. As I get older, and have been around many animals, I now know that sometimes there can be a pinched nerve that doesn't show up in a brief exam before a surgery BUT may have been there before hand. When an animal is laid flat on it's back for surgery, things can get pinched. BUT during a spay or neuter surgery, our vets are nowhere near the spine or neck while the dog is on the surgery table. The vets see very little of the animal - as the tech has the animal already hooked up to oxygen and draped. The only parts showing are the small area of abdomen on a female and the scrotal area of the male. The dog is lifted by techs to the prep table, to the surgery table and from surgery to kennel for recovery. Honestly, the dog is carried in such a way as to protect the cleaned area before surgery and to protect the clean but sutured area after - on the padding and towels that go thru surgery with him/her. The dog is rolled over it's belly during the recovery IF the towels need to be changed (larger dogs sometimes have more to evacuate - so towels replaced). The dog is also rolled over it's belly if he/she needs more stimulation to wake up. We do not want him/her on their back at this time. The intubation tube isn't removed until the dog is awake and able to swallow. NO ONE is allowed to leave that dog while it is recovering and is still intubated.
Also - we don't keep the animals overnight - or for 2-3 days. They go home just hours after their surgeries and in the paperwork it states that the owners pet may still be groggy from the drugs. Some dogs and cats cry, whine, bark, yip, hiccup, meow, howl, sing, screech, scrabble their legs, lean on walls, kennel sides, weave back and forth while walking out, or refuse to get up and move at all - all uncontrollably as they are coming out of anesthesia. Some will become growly/bitey. Of course, on some the incision site is tender but on some they seem to become tender all over when they've had anesthesia and will cry/yip or try to actually bite (especially smaller dogs) when touched (both male & female). WE DO suggest that the animal be kept quiet, not be bothered much (especially by children) but in the case of dogs that they be walked on a leash (o, but he's not leash trained) only and encouraged to walk (quietly) and every so often so that they work the drugs out of their systems. Some may not want to eat, others will want to and then will be sick. We have regular returning clients (mostly rescuers) that board their animals with a boarding place for at least 48 hours after surgery and let them deal with the after affects, proper kennels/crates and the meds. Then you have the opposite - a young dog has just had the "thing" removed that caused "misery" - and she's on an noninflammatory so she FEELS GOOD. "It's soooo cruel to keep her crated but now she has this huge opening and swelling in her belly...". The incision site is not to be covered but must be kept dry - no licking, chewing, scratching by pet, no cleaning with a cloth or ointment applied (if the dog is "leaking", bleeding or serum or otherwise - we want to know about it). No bathing, swimming or leaving out in the rain or right now, snow! If the dog feels good and runs, jumps, jumps up on furniture (bed, car) or plays with other dogs - internal sutures are liable to become irritated and they may develop localized swelling - often looks like a golf ball or marble. They can be brought in and the swelling will/can be drained in minutes. If dog really "ugly", may need to be re-sedated ($25), otherwise 2 techs and a vet can usually take care of it. Or the owner can leave it alone and it will eventually be absorbed by the body...
I've written a lot and completely forgot a couple of things I wanted to point out. GEEZE. So - well, it might be self explanatory? That's how our clinic does things. I have participated in "field surgeries" - with horses - done outside at owners' property and at the vet clinic. I've seen eyes removed, helped remove 2, watched while my 2 week old filly's eye was saved, helped in a pony necropsy, participated in all portions of horse AI, foaled out mares (never my ponies - always miss those - sometimes by just minutes), moved all the portable xray equipment around - setting up the film where vet wanted it while owner held horse and vet took pics; banded calves, goats and cats (the vet didn't OK the cat), under 2 different vets, i've done some of the suturing on horses (wouldn't be done today w/ any of the vets I have)... I've been in one vet hospital that had some different equipment (meant for larger livestock) and was allowed to view the surgery on my shetland stallions' hoof/leg there. I've not been in a small animal vet HOSPITAL that has extra techs, separate anesthesiologist, or different tools available for any possible emergency during surgery. I do know that several of the Vet Hospitals cost more here because they automatically keep the dog or cat for up to 3 days - usually the time they will get their meds (& their services are billed up front).
Ah - I remember some more. I can't say to Vet school in other states or in other countries. But over the years of working for and with several vets and now with dealing directly with vet students AND participating in "gelding parties" done by VET STUDENTS in their 4th year of school (ONLY), I can say this. There is a lot to know about all animals. They are all different - even breeds w/i the same species can be different. According to vet students here in NC, the vet school covers a little about a lot of different subjects and in a very short amount of time. 4 years is never enough, then grad school - and then the student is "thrown out" into the working world to sink or swim as a vet. Some have had practice and experience with different animals before school, some haven't. Some have dealt with small animals, or birds or reptiles but don't know the first thing about dealing with livestock or growling BIG dogs. They can choose to stay and study more in depth in one particular subject.
In speaking with the vets in our clinic (in the last 2 1/2 years I've met/worked with 7 or 8 different small animal vets & only 2 of those have EVER been around horses and only 1 of those around minis/Shetlands) - just because the person is a vet doesn't mean they can deal with all animals. I have gone to vets that specialize in reproduction IN 1 SPECIES ONLY and the first vet here in NC had a vet working for her that specialized in leg injuries in just horses.
I also remember being a "guinee pig" in all things mini sized and did not understand what the vet, at the time, didn't tell me. THAT SHE DID"T HAVE THE EQUIPMENT or THE KNOWLEDGE OF HOW TO SAVE THE COLT I WANTED TO SAVE. I walked into the clinic (I leased my acreage then from the vet clinic and this was 1 1/2 years after I'd moved in), to find her simply BAWLING her eyes out. I had no idea what was wrong or how to deal with that and it was EMBARRASSING for both of us on several levels. We got thru it and when she explained what part of the problem was (no tubing small enough to got thru his teeny little nostril and just born throat into his stomach), I haltingly asked if tubing from a fish tank would work? Not knowing i only needed a 12" piece, I'd bought like a 6' coil of the stuff for our new fish tank and had lots left over! It was a long, long nite - but my vet then learned I was willing to participate in doing procedures w/ my own ponies and to what lengths I would go to "make it happen". I am and probably always will be working on a budget - but then I also had 3 small girl children at home, hubby overseas and I was on my own. The 3 girls that night were sleeping in the truck with the air conditioning on, cuz it was around 100* at 2 am... The vet also learned that I was willing and able to try unconventional things and that sometimes I had supplies on hand that would work for ... things! That colt made it - getting both a blood plasma transfusion and a stomach tubing of colostrum (provided from one of my own heavily milking mares months earlier and in the Vet Clinics freezer for anybody to use as needed). The mare was given a shot that brought her into milk - and w/i 2 days was a "regular milk cow" that was always dripping!
If you've made it this far, I hope you understand we all rant and rave and want to "kill" someone or other we've worked with, dealt with or worked for. But be careful what is said and how it is said w/o understanding facts first of what and how things are done, can be done and/or were done.