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7 Ways for Your Dog to Avoid Emergency Surgery

Posted September 18, 2014 in Dog Checkups & Preventive Care

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. His website is He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” (

AJ Debiasse, a technician in Stroudsburg, PA, contributed to this article.


In many situations, surgery is necessary to fix a problem or save a dog’s life. However, here are 7 situations in which caution can keep your dog from ending up on the surgery table, saving you a bundle of time, stress, and money.

1. Use a dog leash
Even the best-behaved dog will feel the call of the wild every now and again. Many instances are uneventful, while others could require surgery. Using a leash can keep your dog from getting hit by a car or chasing another animal into the woods. These behaviors can cause many injuries, from lacerations to orthopedic injures—even losing your dog altogether. Using a leash will prevent your friendly canine from trying to befriend a not-so-nice one. Click here for more about leash safety.

2. Dog proof your home
Some objects, when ingested, don't cause much of an issue. Either they break down during digestion, or they are small enough to pass. However, many foreign objects get stuck in the stomach and/or the intestine, requiring surgery to be removed. At worst, parts of intestines may get damaged enough to require removal. To avoid this risk altogether, dog proof your house by keeping all questionable items out of your dog's reach. This may require the use of child locks, closing off certain rooms, keeping counters clean or removing toxic plants. Unfortunately, it is difficult to assess what your dog may get into until it’s too late. They are very creative!

3. Tack your dog’s stomach
Large and giant breed dogs are prone to a life-threatening condition called bloat or stomach torsion. Primarily in dogs with a deep chest, the stomach can twist around. This major emergency requires surgery. Too few dog owners are aware that there is a preventive procedure called a gastropexy. The stomach is tacked or sutured to the inside of the abdomen to prevent it from twisting. This can be done any time the abdomen is opened for any other reason:

  • Spaying
  • Removal of a foreign body
  • Removal of bladder stones

If no other surgery is planned, the gastropexy can be done independently. Click here to learn more about gastropexy.

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Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and author. His traveling practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his website at, and follow him at