Lorain County Animal Emergency Center, Inc

5152 Grove Avenue, Rt 57
Lorain, OH 44055



Surgical Conditions

Rupture Cranial Cruciate Ligament (RCCL)


Ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligament
  • RCCL is the most common cause of back leg limping in the dog.
  • It occurs in cats and all sizes, ages and breeds of dogs.
  • Once damaged, the ligament will not heal.
  • Surgery is the best treatment for the condition.
  • Return to normal function is expected with early surgical treatment.
  • The tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) and the lateral suture are common surgical procedures to treat a RCCL.


Laryngeal Paralysis

  • Causes difficulty breathing especially during hot weather or exercise.
  • Affected dogs usually appear normal at rest.
  • Is usually seen in older, large breed dogs.
  • These dogs often have a history of coughing, exercise intolerance and voice change.
  • Surgery is the best treatment and offers return to an active life.
  • the unilateral arytenoid lateralization is the surgical procedure of choice.


Bloat (GDV or Gastric Dilation/Volvulus)

  • GDV is a condition where the stomach flips on itself.
  • The patient is unable to vomit or pass stomach contents into the intestine.
  • Large breed dogs are more commonly affected. GDV can occur in cats.
  • These dogs usually have a distended abdomen and non-productive vomiting.
  • This is an emergency condition. These dogs can die in a matter of hours.
  • Surgery is recommended to untwist the stomach and prevent it from twisting again.


Liver Shunts (portosystemic shunts (PSS) or vascular anomalies)

  • PSS is a condition where the blood that normally flows to the liver passes through an abnormal blood vessel around the liver.
  • Common signs are related to the nervous system (seizures, dullness), the urinary system (difficulty urinating, stones), or the gastro-intestinal system (vomiting, diarrhea, poor weight gain)
  • Could either be acquired (secondary to liver disease) or congenital.
  • Small breed dogs such as yorkies, maltese, or miniature poodles are commonly affected.
  • Congenital shunts are best closed off, usually surgically.
  • With a successful surgery many dogs and cats can be returned to a normal life.
  • This is a surgical procedure used to decrease the possibility of a male cat having blocked uriniations.
  • It is most often used to treat recurrent urinary obstruction secondary to idiopathic cystitis (FUS, FLUTD)
  • The surgery removes the narrow part of the urethra (tube running from the bladder through the penis) to a wider part aloowing mucus plugs, crystals and small stones to pass more easily.
  • A PU is a good option for cats that have obstructed more than one or two times

TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy)

  • This is a surgical procedure to treat cranial cruciate ligament damage.
  • It works by neutralizing sliding of the thigh bone (femur) on the tibia (shin bone) during weight bearing.
  • The top of the tibia is cut, repositioned and then held in place with a steel plate and screws.
  • Recovery and prognosis are very good for return to pet-quality or even athletic function.
  • Many veterinary surgeons consider this the best surgery available for cranial cruciate ligament damage.

Herniated Intervertebral Disc

  • The intervertebral discs are cushions that sit in between each of the small bones, or vertebrae, that make up the back bone.
  • The disc is like a jelly doughnut with a jelly center and a firm outside.
  • The outside can weaken and allow some of the jelly center to escape putting pressure on the spinal cord.
  • Pressure on the spinal cord causes pain and neurological deficits.
  • Pain and mild neurologic deficits can sometimes be treated with cage rest.
  • Surgery is the recommended treatment in patients that are having difficulty or have lost the ability to walk.
  • Some patients will be permanently paralyzed.
  • Early surgical treatment carries a good prognosis for return to walking in most patients
  • Any pet losing the ability to walk should be evaluated on an emergency basis.

Tracheal (wind pipe)Collapse

  • Tracheal collapse happens when the rings that support the trachea weaken.
  • It occuts most commonly in small breed dogs.
  • The most common sign is a honking cough that is often worse during excitement.
  • Turning blue (cyanosis), collapsing and death can happen in severely affected patients.
  • Mild cases can be treated medically.  Weigh loss in overweight animals is essential.
  • Patients that are not responding well to medical treatment can be treated surgically.
  • Surgical treatment may consist of placing rings around the trachea or a stent inside the trachea.

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

  • Brachycephalic animals are those breeds with a pushed in nose.
  • Some of the breeds affected are:  Pugs, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, Himalayan and Persian cats.
  • This is a congenital condition.
  • The primary defects include stenotic nares, elongated soft palate and a hypoplastic trachea.
  • Everted laryngeal saccules occur secondary to the increased breathing effort that results from the primary defects.
  • Signs include noisy and/or difficulty breathing, gagging, snoring, exercise intolerance and collapse.
  • The signs and severity will vary from patient to patient.
  • Early surgery can prevent secondary changes and limit the severity of the condition.

Salivary Mucocoele

  • This is a pocket of saliva that develops, usually under the jaw.
  • The cause is thought to be damage to the tubes that carry the saliva from the gland to the mouth.
  • The mandibular and sublingual salivary glands (located behind the jaw) are the most commonly involved glands.
  • Some of these will resolve spontaneously.
  • Those persisting longer that a couple of weeks can be treated very effectively with surgery.

Stenotic Nares

  • The nares are the nostrils or the openings that allow air to pass through the nose.
  • Stenotic nares is a condition in which the nares are too small to allow normal airflow through the nose.
  • Dogs and cats typically prefer breathing through their nose.
  • The most common presentation is as part of the brachycephalic airway syndrome.
  • Surgery to open the nares is the treatment of choice.

Elongated Soft Palate

  • The soft palate is the tongue of tissue that hangs down the throat from the back of the roof of the mouth.
  • In some animals it can be elongated and cause problems with breathing and swallowing.
  • It is most commonly seen in breeds affected by brachycephalic airway syndrome.
  • The treatment of an elongated soft palate is to surgically remove the excess portion.
  • The surgery is very effective.

Hypoplastic Trachea

  • The trachea is the wind pipe that carries air to and from the lungs.
  • A hypoplastic trachea is a trachea that is smaller than normal.
  • The smaller the trachea the more likely that the dog or cat is to have difficulty breathing.
  • This is most commonly seen as part of the brachcephalic airway syndrome.
  • There is currently no practical treatment for an animal with a severely hypoplastic trachea.

Everted Laryngeal Saccules

  • The laryngeal saccules are small pouches next to the vocal cords.
  • With some upper airway conditions the lining of the saccules can evert and cause obstruction of airflow to the lungs.
  • Everted laryngeal saccules typically occur as a secondary change in an animal with brachycephalic airway syndrome.
  • The treatment is to surgically remove the everted saccule.

Ear (Aural) Hematoma

  • A hematoma is a pocket of blood ("blood blister") that forms outside of the blood vessels.
  • An aural hematoma is one that forms in between the cartilages of the pinna (the floppy, outer portion of the ear).
  • It usually forms secondary to vigorous head shaking caused by an ear infection or insect bites.
  • They are best treated by removing the fluid and clot and either suturing the cartilages together or placing a drain.
  • The underlying condition must also be treated.

Ear Canal Ablation

  • This is a surgery where part or all of the external ear canal is removed.
  • The external ear canal is the cartilage funnel that attaches to the portion of the skull that makes up the middle ear.
  • An ear canal ablation is recommended when there are permanent changes to the external ear, usually from a chronic ear infection.
  • Most often the entire external canal is removed.  Occasionally on the vertical portion needs to be removed.
  • The pinna, or floppy part of the ear is not removed.
  • The surgery usually results in a dramatic improvement in the patient's quality of life.
  • The surgery does not typically result in any change in the patient's ability to hear, occasionally an owner will feel that their pet hears better than before the surgery.
  • There is no need for anymore ear medications because the ear canal is gone.


  • This is a condition primarily of cats.
  • The colon loses its ability to push stool out through the anus resulting in chronic, recurrent constipation or obstipation.
  • Some patients, especially early on, will respond to medications, enemas and diet changes.
  • Surgery is indicated if the cat needs to have the stool removed (deobstipated) more frequently that every 1-2 months.
  • The surgery (a subtotal colectomy) removes the colon (large bowel) and is very effective at solving the problem.

Liver Tumors

  • Most of the liver tumors in dogs and cats are either benign or are of low-grade malignancy and respond very well to surgical treatment.
  • Benign tumors and low-grade malignant tumors tend to grow slow enough that the patient's body is able to adapt to the mass' presence until it is very large.
  • Animals with benign tumors often present with chronic vomiting and weight loss.
  • Malignant tumors have more of a tendency to bleed.
  • Acute collapse and anemia secondary to bleeding from the tumor is more common with a malignant tumor.
  • There is the possibility of curing a benign tumor.  Curing a malignant tumor is uncommon.
  • Often the only way to tell the difference between a benign and malignant tumor is to have a sample of tissue evaluated by a pathologist.  Usually this sample must be taken surgically.

Biliary Mucocele (Necrotizing Cholecystitis)

  • This is a condition where the gall bladder becomes filled with gelatinous mucous and bile.
  • Cocker Spaniels and Schnauzers are breeds that are more commonly affected.
  • This tends to be a chronic disease that is not apparent until the problem is very advanced.
  • Early signs are lethargy, poor appetite and elevated liver enzymes on blood work.
  • Later signs are depression, vomiting, anorexia, and severe blood work changes.
  • Surgery to remove the gall bladder is the recommended treatment and is often curative.
  • Biopsies of the liver, intestines and any other organs should be taken at the time of surgery because there is often underlying liver or intestinal disease that should be treated.
  • This is a potentially fatal disease.
  • Surgery is best done early when the patient is healthier.


  • This is a condition where the parathyroid glands are producing too much parathyroid hormone (PTH).
  • The dog has 4 parathyroid glands in the neck that are associated with the thyroid glands.
  • PTH regulates calcium in the body.
  • Too much PTH causes the blood calcium to become too high.
  • The signs tend to be nonspecific and include increased drinking and urinating, poor appetite, lethargy and weakness.
  • The condition is usually caused by a benign tumor in one of the parathyroid glands.
  • Surgery is often curative.

Ectopic Ureters

  • The ureters are the tubes that carry the urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
  • Ectopic ureters  is when one or both ureters empty outside of the bladder, usually into the urethra.
  • This is a congenital problem.
  • The condition is most frequently recognized in female dogs.
  • Siberian Huskies have and increased incidence.
  • Male dogs can have the problem but are less likely to have clinical signs.
  • Urinary incontinence, usually in a young animal, is the most common clinical sign.
  • Medications alone are unlikely to resolve the problem.
  • Surgery and medications resolves the problem in about 70% of the patients affected.
    • This is a sterile (no bacteria) inflammation of the urinary bladder.
    • Cats with FUS can urinate frequently, strain to urinate, have bloody urine and/or urinate in inappropriate places.
    • FUS is the most common cause of inability to urinate in the cat.
    • Because the urethra (tube that carries the urine out of the bladder) is much thinner in male cat, male cats are much more likely to be "blocked" than female cats.
    • Once a cat becomes blocked it is an emergency.  They can get so sick that they can die within 12 hours.
    • Most patients can be treated effectively with diet, medications and environment modification.
    • If a male cat blocks multiple times a surgical procedure called a perineal urethrostomy (PU) can be considered.

    Patellar Luxation (Dislocating Knee Caps)

    • The patella (knee cap) normally sits in a grove in the end of the femur (thigh bone).
    • Luxation (dislocation) is when the patella moves out of the grove.
    • Medial luxation, the dislocation of the patella to the inside of the knee, is more common than lateral (where the patella moves to the outside of the knee) luxation.
    • This condition is more common in small breed dogs than large breed dogs.
    • Luxating patellas are a congenital condition unless there is some known trauma or other condition (ruptured cranial cruciate ligament) present.
    • An animal with a luxating patella will usually have an intermittent, non-painful lameness starting at a young age.  They will often hold the leg up for several steps, shake the leg and start using the leg normally.
    • Adult animals diagnosed with patellar luxation with no previous history of limping often have concurrent damage to the cranial cruciate ligament.
    • Surgery is the recommended treatment for pets where the patellar luxation is causing a compromise in their quality of life.
    • Animals that are mildly affected may never need surgery.
    • The standard surgical treatment includes deepening the groove in the femur, tightening the patella's soft tissue support on the side away from the luxation, loosening the patella's soft tissue support on the side of the luxation and moving the attachment of the ligament that attaches the patella to the top of the tibia (shin bone).
    • Some pets have a large curve in the femur that must be straightened before the patella will stay in joint.
    • The prognosis for return to near-normal to normal function after surgery for a luxating patella is very good.

    Dislocating Knee Caps