What is Laparoscopic Surgery?

Your veterinarian or veterinary surgeon may have recommended laparoscopic surgery for a procedure your dog requires. This type of procedure is sometimes called a ‘keyhole’ surgery because of the small incisions necessary and the minimally invasive scoping within the abdomen. Laparoscopic surgeries typically have a quicker recovery with less pain than more invasive procedures which require large incisions. With laparoscopic surgery, your veterinarian will be able to view the surgical site through a laparoscope inserted through a small abdominal incision and perform the surgical procedure through a second small hole while viewing the abdomen through the camera on the inserted laparoscope.

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Laparoscopic Surgery Procedure in Dogs

Though minimally invasive, your dog will be under general anesthesia during the laparoscopic procedure. Your veterinarian may require at least a 12 hour fast.

The veterinary techs may start with blood work, if necessary, to get a view of your dog’s overall health. Depending on the surgery and reason for the procedure, your veterinarian may also perform an ultrasound.

Once your dog is anesthetized, the veterinary staff will shave the abdomen area and incise one or two small holes, depending on whether this procedure is surgical or simply scoping. If your veterinarian is using a laparoscope to view an area, there may only be one small hole. If this is a surgical procedure, one incision will be for the laparoscope and one for the surgical instruments necessary for the procedure.

Your veterinary surgeon will view the surgical area through a camera in the laparoscope and use computerized instruments to perform the surgery.

Once the surgery is complete, your dog’s incisions will be sutured, and he will begin recovery.

Efficacy of Laparoscopic Surgery in Dogs

Laparoscopic surgery is often performed for very specific reasons. This type of surgical procedure is highly efficient for its intended purposes. Exploratory laparoscopy allows your veterinarian to explore your dog’s abdomen with minimal pain. Laparoscopic surgery is minimally invasive and allows your dog an easier and faster recovery with less pain than the traditional surgical methods for the same outcome.

There are alternative methods to laparoscopic surgeries. However, they usually involve large incisions and longer recoveries. Even a spay surgery for female dogs is a much different surgery when it is done laparoscopically. In the traditional spay surgery, the entire reproductive system is removed from the dog from one or two large incisions. With a laparoscopic spay surgery, only the ovaries are removed from two small incisions. This is an effective surgery with the same result and easier recovery for your dog.

Laparoscopic Surgery Recovery in Dogs

The biggest difference in laparoscopic surgery is how quickly your dog can recover from the procedure. Laparoscopic surgery is often quick to perform with less pain and a much faster recovery than traditional surgeries.

Once home, your dog should have a soft, quiet place to rest. Their abdomen will be sore. Try to keep your dog resting unless leash walking for elimination purposes. Your dog may have been given fluids during surgery so he or she may need to urinate more than usual for the first 24 hours. For the first two meals, your veterinarian may recommend half portions of food.

Your dog should not lick or chew on the incisions. Your veterinarian may recommend an Elizabethan collar or cone to keep your dog from licking.

Check the incisions daily for redness or swelling. Be sure to report any concerns to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may request a recheck appointment about two weeks after the laparoscopic surgery.

Cost of Laparoscopic Surgery in Dogs

The cost of laparoscopic procedures and surgery will vary by condition and procedure. Laparoscopic surgery is typically more expensive than traditional surgery because of the investment in specialized training and equipment by the veterinary office. However, many veterinarians and patients agree the benefits far outweigh the added costs.  

Laparoscopic surgeries will cost between $200 and $1,000 depending on the procedure. A simple biopsy may be on the lower end with a spay or neuter in the middle to high end, with cost of living and geographic area as contributing factors.

Dog Laparoscopic Surgery Considerations

Laparoscopic surgeries are often more expensive than traditional scalpel methods. This is because the laparoscopic devices, tubes, cameras, and computers are more costly than traditional surgical equipment. However, the risks are lower, and healing and recovery are much quicker for dogs who undergo laparoscopic surgery rather than traditional surgery.

With some surgeries, such as a spay, less of the dog is affected, and fewer internal organs are removed. The laparoscopic camera gives your veterinary surgeon a close-up view of the surgical area, often making the surgery easier to complete and certainly easier to view.  

Laparoscopic Surgery Prevention in Dogs

Laparoscopic surgery is most commonly performed for spaying a female dog. Often, laparoscopic surgery is used to prevent other conditions. A laparoscopic spay or neuter will prevent unwanted pregnancies. A laparoscopic stomach tacking could prevent bloat.  Laparoscopic procedures can also help detect other diseases such as cancer. A laparoscopic biopsy can easily pull tissue from an organ with minimal pain and a fast recovery so your veterinarian can focus on biopsy results and next steps for possible treatment.

For your dog’s overall health and well-being, always feed them a healthy veterinarian-approved diet. A healthy diet includes a balance of healthy fats, proteins, and a small amount of healthy carbohydrates. Your dog can eat fresh or steamed vegetables in their meals to increase anti-oxidants. A proper diet and regular exercise routine is your dog’s best fight against most diseases.