Let me tell you about Brownie. Brownie is an adult Persian cat. Brownie's owner called in and scheduled her for a spay surgery we refer to as an Ovariohysterectomy aka OVH. An OVH is the removal of the ovaries and the uterus of female mammals. The day Brownie arrived, she arrived with another family member with very little knowledge of her history. He didn't know her age, her vaccination status or her last heat cycle. Her physical exam revealed she was pretty healthy but that doesn't mean she hasn't gotten something going on that can't be found with a physical exam. He asked for an estimate of her services for which I printed off from our standard estimate list. He then said that the estimate was $10 more than what was given to her owner over the phone. I apologized but since I wasn't the person that had talked to her I wouldn't know what had been quoted. He wasn't sure what to do next. I suggested he talk to Brownie's owner and ask her what she wanted to do. Doc wasn't due back until after 10 am so he could call back before then and let us know what she decided.
A little while later, we received a call to go ahead with her surgery. So surgery commenced a short while after that. Once inside we found Brownie's uterus was twice its normal size with infection, her ovaries were cystic and had adhesions (a fibrous substance that makes it so that one piece of internal organ sticks to other internal organs). If we hadn't spayed her that day, she would have gotten a systemic infection. The infection of the uterus is called Pyometra and when an animal gets far enough along to have a systemic infection they need emergency surgery to remove the infected uterus. We also have to take extra precautions to make sure none of the infection leaks back into the belly.
OVH fees vary from clinic to clinic, from region to region. Some clinics the surgery fee is all inclusive while others are itemized. Where I work we are semi-itemized, the OVH surgery fee includes anesthetics, a one night stay and a free recheck. The additional fees include: antibiotics (post op injection and take home) are weight dependent and cats also have an option of either liquid or pills and ECG Heart monitor is a flat fee. Many other clinics include fluids, pre-surgical lab work, and pain medication for dogs. Fluids are because they do not have access to water the day of surgery and the night before and become dehydrated making recovery from surgery and anesthesia difficult. Pre-surgical lab work checks for infection, internal organ problems, anemia, etc. As for pain medication, you wouldn't go through major surgery without pain medication would you? Because that's what this is; major surgery. In the human world this surgery costs $30,000 or more. 6-month-old cat's and dogs recover much quicker than 40+ year old women. In rural Nebraska you can expect a minimum for cats around $100 and $130 for dogs. On the east coast these fee's can get upwards of a $1000. Quite a bargain don't you think? It's even better if you have your pet(s) covered by pet health insurance like Veterinary Pet Insurance. www.petinsurance.com/
Then you have additional fees due to complications. There are several conditions that increase the risk of surgery and anesthesia. These include obesity or being underweight, hidden infection, heartworms, intestinal worms, anemia, being behind or never had vaccinations and certain breeds have a higher anesthetic risk like Persians cats, gray hounds and other sight hounds, border collies, collies, etc.
We do our best to keep your pets healthy but sometimes we need to excede our estimated fees to do that. Estimates are just that, an approximation of the services that may happen, they are not set in stone. If the fees look like they might get extreme, we'll contact you and give you options of what we can do and how much you can expect. When it comes to Pyometra's, it is better out than in.
I commend Brownie's owner for having her spayed. And here's why...
Since our Humane Society has been inundated with oodles of surrendered and stray pets this past year, I highly suggest visiting this website- http://www.y2spay.org/ You may want to check out the opinion posted by the McCook Humane Society http://www.mccookgazette.com/story/1304816.html