No matter where you get your pet spayed or neutered, it will provide your pet with a longer and healthier life, better behavior and peace of mind in knowing that you are doing your part to help in the fight against animal overpopulation. However, sometimes it can be confusing when confronted by the various costs for the procedure from clinic to clinic, even within a small geographic area. What is included and what isn't?
Often we are asked why our price for neutering/spaying is on the high end of the cost spectrum when compared to other clinics, so we thought we would address this issue by providing a checklist of our protocol, which is also a convenient "list" you may use when comparing the same service elsewhere.
About our protocol
While spaying and neutering can be considered a fairly routine procedure for young animals, it is, after all, a surgical procedure, and complications can arise. The Ann Arbor Animal Hospital is guided by, what we call, "The Gold Standard of Treatment."
The Ann Arbor Animal Hospital does not offer "a la carte" surgical options, where certain tests or treatment can be omitted to keep the cost down. It has been our experience that the following protocol suits our commitment to providing the most rigorous, mindful veterinary care possible. To that end, our neuter/spay surgery includes an array of pain medications designed to address pre and post surgery symptoms. We also employ pre-anesthesia bloodwork and the use of fluids and monitoring of vital signs during surgery that low-cost/high-volume clinics may not. So, when inquiring about surgery we highly encourage you to make an "apples-to-apples" comparison so you can be sure that your pet is receiving the highest care possible.
Not all clinics are created equal and, therefore, when comparing costs of surgeries and your pet’s care, it is important that you understand services, what and what isn't included, and what makes them different.
Below is a checklist so that if you are "comparison shopping," or considering the having the procedure done at a low-cost clinic, you can ask about what is provided and what is not:
Bloodwork performed prior to anesthesia evaluates risks by evaluating liver and kidney values to help in decision-making for what anesthetic agents will be appropriate for the patent. It also gives a baseline to know if things are normal prior to surgery. In young patients, it can help to find congenital abnormalities which may complicate the procedure.
IV Catheter & Fluids:
IV catheter provides a quick access to a vein in case of emergency (which is more difficult to do if blood pressure drops too low or a critical condition presents itself). It also allows the veterinarian to deliver IV fluids that are important to keep blood pressure normalized and help protect kidney function during surgery.
Anesthestic plans should be individualized to every patient and adjusted depending on age, body fat, size, concurrent illnesses, lab results from the bloodwork, temperament of the patient, as well as the invasiveness and duration of the procedure. Does your surgeon have a wide array of medications to help tailor each individual plan?
Multimodal anesthetics generally used for all patients include pre-anesthesia sedation/pain medication, induction agent to to allow intubation, and sometimes local anesthetic or epidural when indicated and maintenance of gas anesthesia during surgery.
Vital Sign Monitoring:
The heart is continuously monitored using EKG to follow electrical impulses of the heart to detect any abnormalities quickly. Blood Pressure is monitored so if there are fluctuations fluids can be adjusted accordingly and medications administered to help control this very important parameter. Oxygen Saturation Monitoring is also essential to know the proper blood flow to vital organs, and can allow the surgical team to quickly adapt to any changes in the patient's condition.
Pre and Post-op Pain Meds:
Controlling pain is VERY important to the healing process. By administering pain meds before surgery, it helps to avoid "winding up" the nervous system to pain. Pain meds are tailored to each patient and sent home with the appropriate dosage.
Licensed LVTs monitor patients and anesthesia at all times. Post op patients are continually monitored in the Animal Hospital's ICU.
For most procedures, including neuter/spay, we like to be able to closely monitor patients post operatively. That way, patients can be observed to assess the level of pain, catch any complications, and recover quickly. The owner shouldn't have to worry about the pet being over-sedated or not acting normally at home. Overnight hospitalization and observation with a veterinarian and licensed technician provides 24-hour care for the post-op patient.
No matter where you go...
When seeking ANY kind of treatment, it is our firm belief that the best kind of care includes continuity and a relationship between the patient and the veterinarian throughout the life of the pet. Our services and facilities are designed to assist in routine preventive care for young, healthy pets; early detection and treatment of disease as your pet ages; and complete medical and any surgical care that may become necessary during his or her lifetime.
We understand the special role your pet plays in your family and are dedicated to becoming your partner in your pet’s health care. We treat your pet as we would our own. Our goal is to practice the highest quality medicine and surgery with compassion and an emphasis on client education. Our entire healthcare team is committed to providing personal attention to the unique concerns of each individual pet owner, including financial issues. So, if you have any questions, always feel free to ask for clarification!