That was what my assistant said to me. "Well, people are not so kind when the dog dies on the operating table when the vet does what is logical and the dog dies. They will just bad-mouth about the vet's incompetence to anyone who comes into contact with them. You have heard such remarks recently."
"A short surgery means a short duration of anaesthesia," I explained to the man who was very keen on veterinary medicine and surgery. "It is less risky for the old dog. I mean she is 15 years old. She would be equivalent to a 105-year-old woman now."
Surprisingly she still had the estrus cycle as vaginal prolapse is associated with the onset of the heat cycle. The owner agreed to a blood test which showed slight increase in liver enzymes. This dog was quite healthy and had a 60% chance of survival under a short anaesthesia and surgery. From my experience, the surgery should be completed in less than 15 minutes. The owner had to decide. She gave the go-ahead for the spay and teeth scaling and dental work.
The spay was completed in 15 minutes. Total time taken was 25 minutes of anaesthesia using isoflurane gas at 1-2% and intubation as the dog took some time to be given gas mask. Excellent anaesthesia. Before stitching, I had the gas switched off to 0%. The blood colour was excellent and bright red. However, the dog did not wake up as what other younger and normal dogs would do under such low anaesthesia. He took about 10 minutes to wake up and was very sleepy. 5% glucose IV drip was given during surgery and then a bottle of dextrose saline overnight. The dog was OK and the lady owner was happy.
Teamwork is important in old dog anaesthesia. My first assistant, Mr Saw monitored the anaesthesia like a hawk. My second assistant who had thought that this case should be 2 surgeries in one (spay and breast tumour removal) helped me in the surgery and that is the secret to a shorter 15-minute spay. Normally, I don't give myself unnecessary stress and a normal dog spay takes around 30 minutes.
It was great to see the old female dog alive. As for the breast tumour, it may be best not to operate. The spay showed that the uterine tissues had gone cystic - as in a closed pyometra case. The dog should not have any more vaginal prolapse as she would not by having heat. Do such old dogs still have estrous cycle? Apparently so in this case. Spay is the treatment to prevent any more recurrence of vaginal prolapse in female dogs and this is why I did the spay first. The complaint from the owner was vaginal prolapse and not breast tumour. Therefore, know what the client wants and don't get side-tracked. The dog did get her teeth scaled and four rotten teeth extracted under one anaesthesia but this did not take more than 10 minutes. She should have a better quality of life now, with a tartar-free clean mouth and not having to lick her protruding vaginal prolapsed mass.