Gastrointestinal tract surgery

gastro surgery-898Dogs and cats require intestinal surgery for a variety of reasons. It may be the dog that has swallowed a ball or got a bone stuck in the intestine, or the cat with an obstructing tumour.

Each patient will be different and require a different level of care and surgery.

Pre-surgical planning will likely involve imaging with xrays and/or ultrasound, plus blood tests and possible biopsies.

Sometimes it is not entirely certain what is going to be found when the patient’s abdomen is opened up, so we need to be prepared to deal with all possibly eventualities.


Abdominal surgery ranges from relatively straightforward to very complex. Removing a stone from the stomach is simple, while removing a piece of string from a length of intestine is extremely challenging at times. Sometimes there are multiple procedures that need performing while in the abdomen.

Pain relief, hydration, and nutrition are all vital parts of the care of an abdominal surgery patient, and will be assessed in detail several times daily while in the clinic and a plan drawn up for home care on discharge.

gastro surgery 2-144Suitable candidates

Often the decisions around abdominal surgery relate less to the need for surgery (which is often quite obvious) and more to the timing of surgery. It is critically important that the patient is in the best possible health for surgery, and that sometimes means a delay of a few hours or even a day while they are stabilised prior to anaesthesia and surgery.

Time in clinic

This varies with the procedure done. Simple stone removals from the stomach are likely to be discharged in 1-2 days. More complex procedures will take longer. As a simple rule, we like to see patients eating, drinking, and defaecating before they are sent home. Food in, faeces out, are good signs that the intestine is working relatively well.

After care

Abdominal surgery involves cutting through the main abdominal muscle wall. This takes around 2-3 weeks to regain its strength after surgery, longer in unwell or elderly patients. During this time the wall is being held together by the sutures alone. It is therefore essential that abdominal surgery patients are not allowed to run around off the lead for at least 2 weeks after surgery. Think about hernia repair in humans as an analogy. Take it easy for a couple of weeks.

How to book

Give reception a ring on 09 238 7486 to discuss transfer of your patient to our clinic for assessment and treatment. You may be asked to bring any clinical notes, xrays images, and medications with you when you come.