At-risk breeds/situations: The diseases listed below can make anesthesia and surgery a higher risk. Some are more breed specific than others. We also offer surgeries to address some of the diseases. Please review the topics, and visit your primary care veterinarian or book a pre-check appointment with us if you have any concerns before surgery!

  • Heart disease: The range of cardiac (heart) diseases is large and can affect any type of dog or cat. Since the heart is the primary organ that pumps blood (and thus, oxygen) throughout the body, any disease affecting the heart makes anesthesia more dangerous. We will review several of the most common heart diseases that affect dogs and cats.

    • Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM): This acquired heart disease is when the heart muscle becomes too weak to pump blood well, and the heart becomes enlarged to try to pump out more blood. Breeds that are most likely to have this disease include Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Portuguese Water Dogs, Dalmatians, Cocker Spaniels, and Standard Schnauzers along with other large/giant breed dogs. Cats and smaller dogs can also have this disease. Feeding a grain-free diet can cause this disease in some cases so always consult with your primary care veterinarian about the best diet for your pet. Learn more here:

    • Mitral valve disease: This disease is commonly found in dogs, especially small breed dogs that are middle to older aged. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels often have this disease. It occurs when one of the heart valves called the mitral valve starts to fail and does not appropriately direct the flow of blood through the heart. This creates turbulent blood flow which makes a sound we call a heart murmur. Not all heart murmurs are caused by mitral valve disease, however. It is best to visit your primary care veterinarian for thoracic radiographs (chest x-rays), blood work, and further testing to determine if your pet is a candidate for surgery when a heart murmur is present. Learn more here: 

    • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM): This disease mostly affects cats and may be seen more in the Maine Coon and Ragdoll breeds though any cat can be affected. This disease occurs when the heart muscle grows thicker, and only a small amount of blood is pumped out at a time. This creates a back-up of blood as fluid into the lungs over time. A heart murmur or abnormal heart rhythm may indicate this disease so please visit your primary care veterinarian for further testing if your pet is suspected of having heart disease. Learn more here:

  • Heartworms and other parasites: Here in Florida we have a plethora of parasites both outside the body, such as ticks and fleas, and within the body, such as intestinal parasites and blood parasites like heartworms. Any parasite can cause or transfer disease to our pets that will make anesthesia and surgery riskier. Heartworms make the heart work harder than normal, and other blood pathogens such as tick borne diseases may make the pet have trouble clotting which leads to bleeding. Intestinal parasites and even fleas and ticks can make the pet anemic or not have enough oxygen carrying red blood cells in the blood. Any of these situations are not ideal, especially when considering anesthesia and surgery. Blood testing and administering preventions for parasites is highly recommended as your normal routine, especially before your surgical visit. 

  • Brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome: Brachycephalic breeds of dogs (Pug, Boston Terrier, Pekingese, Boxer, Bulldog {French and English}, Shih Tzu, etc) and cats (Persian, Himalayan, etc) classically have short faces and trouble breathing normally. This is because their nostrils are stenotic (not open enough), their trachea (windpipe) is not wide enough, and their soft palate is too long. This difficulty in breathing is compounded during anesthesia, and we take certain measures to ensure a successful surgical outcome in these pets such as providing oxygen before anesthesia and anti-inflammatory/anti-nausea medicine as needed. We also offer surgical correction of stenotic nares and elongated soft palates for dogs for an additional charge if we first see your pet for a pre-check appointment. This surgery usually greatly aids your dog in breathing easier which gives us a sigh of relief as well! Learn more here:
  • Von Willebrand’s disease: This disease occurs when an important part of the clotting process in the blood is missing making it difficult for the blood to clot, and excessive bleeding can occur. This greatly increases the risk of surgery, and breeds this disease often occurs in include the Doberman Pinscher, Shetland Sheepdog, Rottweiler, Miniature Schnauzer, German Shepherd, German Short-Haired and Wire-Haired Pointer, Standard Poodle, Scottish Terrier, Golden Retriever, and Chesapeake Bay Retriever. We recommend testing for this disease and other blood clotting tests before surgery with your primary care veterinarian, especially in the breeds listed above, to avoid complications. Learn more here:
  • Bloat/Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV): In the large/giant breed dogs, especially the Great Dane, St. Bernard, Weimaraner, German Shepherd, and Boxer, the stomach may fill with gas and twist upon itself with life threatening consequences. Though not able to completely prevent bloat/GDV, we can perform a gastropexy to help reduce the incidence of this disease. This surgery secures part of the stomach to the abdominal musculature so that it is less likely to twist. Please let us know if you would like this additional cost surgery performed when booking your appointment. Learn more here:
  • Senior pets: As our pets age, so do their organs (such as the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and spleen), and things may not work quite like they used to, especially with the added stress of anesthesia. We recommend preoperative blood work which includes a complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry to better evaluate your senior pet before anesthesia. If you have any concerns, please visit your primary care veterinarian or book a pre-check appointment with us before a surgery appointment. Learn more here:
  • Obesity: If your pet is overweight, it also poses a challenge for anesthesia and surgery. The excess fat within the chest can act like a constrictive band making it difficult for the pet to breathe under anesthesia, and more fat in the abdomen (belly) will also slow down our surgeons because it is slippery, easily tears, and makes it difficult to see. Please consult with your primary care veterinarian to determine a weight loss plan so that your pet will live a longer, happier life! Learn more here:

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Protectors of Companion Animals, Inc. d/b/a  SNiP-it of Central Florida (aka: SNiP-it Clinic)

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