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Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

Convenience Surgeries: HSVMA talks to students about alternative therapies

February 28th, 2011

The Oregon State University Chapter of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association (HSVMA) hosted a lunch presentation last Monday on a very controversial topic: convenience surgeries. HSVMA veterinarian Dr. Brad Evergreen (class of 2004) came to discuss current surgeries that are performed, reasons why these procedures are unfavorable, and alternatives to these procedures.

The presentation began with an introduction of the most common convenience surgeries that are performed. These include tail docking and ear cropping, which are mostly done for appearance. While there are many countries that are opposed to these surgeries, the United States has failed to pass any bills making these surgeries illegal.

Dr. Evergreen discussed cat declawing, a procedure that isn’t done for appearance, but for convenience purposes. Owners who have cats that scratch furniture or people sometimes elect to do this procedure. Alternatives to these procedures were introduced, such as scratching posts or other means of protecting the furniture. In addition, the many complications that can follow this procedure were discussed, such as re-growth of the toenails that can lead to infection, pain and the need for monthly toe nail trims.

A few other procedures were briefly discussed, such as debarking and tooth extractions for bite prevention. These are done for either appearance or convenience and do not medically benefit the animal in any way.

One of the strengths of this presentation was the emphasis of the importance of educating the client. Often, clients are unaware of the complications that can occur during and after the procedures. While anesthesia is always a risk, chronic pain, head shyness, and behavioral changes are a few of the many post-operative complications that can occur due to these procedures.

Overall the presentation was a great educational tool for veterinary students to be introduced to the type of controversial topics they will have to encounter in practice. The HSVMA looks forward to future visits and discussions.

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