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Jun 02 2022

One of the oldest and most commonly used forms of cancer therapy

Surgery is one of the most commonly used techniques to treat cancer in pets. The main goal of the surgical procedure is to eliminate the localized cancerous cells from the pet’s body and improve the pet’s wellbeing. Successful removal of localized cancer has been able to cure more pet cancer patients than any other treatment. Though, a cure is not always possible, making the decision to not perform surgery is one of the most difficult decisions in surgical oncology. 

Prior to recommending surgery, knowledge of the tumor type your pet is experiencing and a prognosis is necessary. Additional steps such as bloodwork, and biological sample collection may be required (and in some cases also advanced diagnostic imaging such as PET/MRI, CT, or Ultrasound scans in order to determine the size of the tumor(s)). There are several types of oncology surgeries in veterinary medicine that include the following:

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  • Complete cancer removal: this is often the standard process and often the only form of treatment for some malignant and most benign cancers. The goal of this surgery is to remove as many cancerous tumor cells as possible in an attempt to cure the pet. 

  • Debunking (partial removal of cancer): some cancers are too large or are located in areas that surgery alone cannot remove. For these cases, surgery is used to remove as much cancer as possible without causing damage to surrounding vital structures and normal tissues. Cancer cells that are leftover often get treated with radiation or chemotherapy. 

  • Exploratory surgery: there are times when cancer is located within body cavities such as the chest or abdomen, and a surgeon often uses surgery to explore and get a better look at the tumor to make a decision on the right course of action.

Prioritizing post-operative care for best surgical outcomes

Your pet may experience mild, moderate, or severe pain after surgery, for which reason your veterinary team employs both preventative and multi-modal pain management techniques and protocols to help your pet heal with the magnitude of surgical trauma they may experience. These protocols require different degrees of care depending on the severity of the surgical procedure needed. However, there are some common things you will see as part of our surgery recovery care routine, which include medication, an Elizabethan collar, and possible bandages. Most surgical wounds require little to no extra care outside the instructions we share and simple hygiene.

Each specific oncology surgery and tumor type has its own set of potential complications. Though not all of these complications are predictable, unforeseen complications are uncommon. If there are risk factors present, our team takes supportive measures before, during, and after the surgery and makes sure to communicate them to each pet parent. 

Follow-up care also varies based on the type of cancer the pet is experiencing, the likelihood of cancer spread, and how complete the surgical removal process was. A follow-up examination and testing to monitor your pet for recurring cancer may be recommended. The type of testing and frequency of visits needed after surgery will differ on a case-by-case basis and will be shared with pet owners individually.

Oncological Surgeries We Offer

Here at CAH, we perform a variety of oncological surgeries to help treat injuries and diseases in cats and dogs. Our highly trained team ensures your pet receives the attentive care they deserve.

Mast Cell Tumor Removal

Mast cell tumors are a common type of skin tumor found in dogs, and the second most commonly found in cats. For diagnosed pets, surgical removal of these tumors is preferred.

Mammary Tumor Removal

Mammary tumors are cancerous tumors in the mammary gland of pets, a common condition observed. Surgical removal is a common technique that involves the removal of the tumor mass or the affected mammary gland.

Anal Gland Tumor Removal

Removal of anal gland tumors allows the pet to experience permanent relief of anal gland impaction, infection, and abscessation. This procedure can include the removal of one or both anal sacs.

Tumor Biopsy & Removal

A tumor biopsy refers to the surgical removal of a representative sample of tissue from a suspicious lesion on a pet’s body. The biopsy is processed and then examined under a microscope.

Limb Amputation

Limb amputation is often the best way to relieve a pet that is suffering when the bone cannot be repaired or there is excessive tissue damage that impedes the pet’s ability to heal. This procedure is commonly performed in pets with a badly broken bone, bone cancer, or who have experienced severe limb trauma.


My English Setter, Ellie is a cancer survivor and "tripawd" since her amputation due to Osteosarcoma in July 2012. She has done remarkably well, all because of the care she has received at MAAH. Any time I have needed to have her or my Pug seen, it has always been the same day, working around my work hours. I have never been more satisfied with caring for my pets at a reasonable cost. I owe a lot to Dr. Dhaliwal and his staff.

Marie T.
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