Frequently Asked Questions

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Why does my pet have to stay two nights?
Patients of the Gourley branch of the Community Surgery Service are admitted the day before surgery to allow veterinary students time to thoroughly evaluate the patients prior to surgery. Students must perform physical examinations, run pre-anesthetic bloodwork, and perform additional tests such as x-rays or ultrasound examinations as appropriate after approval by the owner. Additionally students must work with veterinary anesthesiologists to plan anesthesia for their patients. Patients are kept overnight after surgery to ensure that they are well recovered from anesthesia, any surgical pain is well controlled before being released, and students have an opportunity to assess their patients the morning after surgery. However, patients of the CCAH branch of the Community Surgery Service that are having simple procedures are generally discharged the same day as surgery.

Can I use the Community Surgery Service as my primary veterinarian?
The Community Surgery Service provides surgical services only. You are encouraged to continue to use your primary veterinarian for your pet’s general health needs. If you do not have a primary veterinarian, the VMTH’s Community Practice Service can serve as your primary veterinarian. To make an appointment with Community Practice, please call 530-752-9811.

My pet is on a special diet. Should I bring my own food?
Yes, please. Although we cannot accommodate raw diets, we will make every effort to accommodate your pet’s diet needs. Please bring enough for three meals.

My pet is on medications. Should I bring those with me to the appointment?
Yes, please. In addition, please make sure that the Community Surgery Service coordinator has been notified of any medications your pet is receiving at the time the appointment is scheduled.

Why do I need to send my pet’s medical records before I make an appointment?
The Community Surgery Service does not perform all types of surgeries. We carefully screen our patients to ensure the surgery would make an appropriate training case for the students, and that the pre- and post-operative care required by each patient is reasonable. Cases that require advanced surgical skills, do not provide specific learning opportunities, or require intensive pre- or post-operative care will be referred back to your primary veterinarian or to the VMTH’s Soft Tissue Surgery Service or the Orthopedic Surgery Service (which are operated by board-certified veterinary surgery specialists that have special expertise and advanced training to perform complex surgeries). Additionally, patients with medical conditions that increase their anesthetic risk may be deemed inappropriate for surgery in a teaching situation where anesthetic times are often longer due to the nature of teaching.

Do I need to be referred by my primary veterinarian?
Your primary veterinarian is a crucial piece of your pet’s veterinary care. Our communication with your primary veterinarian helps us better understand your pet’s medical needs and ensures your pet gets the best care before, during and after surgery. You are strongly encouraged to speak with your primary veterinarian about your desire to seek surgery through the Community Surgery Service. 

Who will perform the surgery on my pet?
The Community Surgery Service is a student surgery training program, and veterinary students perform the surgeries. The veterinary students in this program are in their fourth and final year of veterinary school. All surgeries are guided and closely supervised by faculty veterinarians.

My pet needs emergency surgery. Can it be done at the Community Surgery Service?
Emergency cases are evaluated on a case by case basis. The Community Surgery Service is not equipped to provide care in all types of emergency cases and cannot provide after-hours surgery services. However, the service will make an effort to accept emergency surgery cases when possible. Of course, the VMTH’s Emergency Room and specialist surgeons are available 24/7, 365 days a year to see any critical emergencies.

I was told the surgery my pet needs is not student-appropriate. What does that mean and what do I do now?
A surgery may be deemed inappropriate for students for a variety of reasons. Most commonly, it is because the surgery is technically challenging and would benefit from a more experienced surgeon. If your pet has a condition that is unsuitable for surgery with the Community Surgery Service, your primary veterinarian may be able to provide the surgical services your pet requires.  Alternatively, the VMTH’s Soft Tissue Surgery Service or the Orthopedic Surgery Service perform surgery at all levels (these services are operated by board-certified veterinary surgery specialists that have special expertise and advanced training to perform complex surgeries). They can be contacted at 530-752-1393. Ultimately, you are encourages to work with your primary veterinarian to find the most appropriate source of veterinary care for your pet.

My dog is in pain and needs surgery now. Why can’t I get an appointment sooner?
Unfortunately, the Community Surgery Service has a finite surgical capacity. The service is unable to provide all types of surgeries and unable to provide surgery for all animals. An effort is made to accommodate patients needing urgent surgical care, but some cases are simply beyond the service’s capacity. You are encouraged to work with your primary veterinarian to determine if the surgery can be provided sooner, or whether your pet can be kept more comfortable while awaiting surgery.

I want to have my rabbit spayed. Can I have that done by the Community Surgery Service?
The Community Surgery Service trains students in surgeries on cats and dogs only. Please contact the VMTH at 530-752-1393 for information on rabbit care through the Companion Exotic Animal Medicine & Surgery Service.

Do I need to fast my pet before the appointment?
No, please feed and medicate your pet as usual the morning of your Community Surgery Service appointment. Emergency cases excluded, your pet’s surgery will not be performed the same day as the appointment.

How much will my pet’s surgery cost and when do I pay for the surgery?
The cost of each surgery varies with the complexity of the surgery and associated care required. The Community Surgery Service coordinator will provide you with an estimated cost for your pet’s surgery at the time your appointment is scheduled. In addition, at the time of your appointment, the Community Surgery Service veterinarian will provide you with written estimate of costs. Payment for the full estimated cost of the surgery is due when a patient is admitted to the hospital for surgery. 

Can my intact dog (un-spayed/un-neutered) have surgery with the Community Surgery Service?
All Community Surgery Service patients must be spayed or neutered, unless it is medically contraindicated. The service can add a spay or neuter procedure to most surgeries for a modest additional fee. The Community Surgery Service is committed to helping control pet over-population.