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Dog Surgery: 10 Most Common Causes

Has your big dog had to have surgery to treat an injury or illness?  If so, you’re not alone.  Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) looked at their client database and found the 10 most common issues requiring surgery for dogs and cats.  Together, those conditions affected 1 in 20 dogs and cats in their client database and cost clients a total of $30 million in 2009 (and that’s after whatever VPI paid as an insurance provider). 


What are the 10 most common causes for dog surgery?

   1.    Benign skin mass:  22,386 cases
   2.    Skin abscess, inflammation or pressure ulcer:  11,178
   3.    Tooth extraction:  9,476
   4.    Torn ACL or cartilage:  6,782
   5.    Malignant skin mass:  4,120
   6.    Cancer of the spleen:  2,224
   7.    Cancer of the eyelid:  1,848
   8.    Bladder stones:  1,823
   9.    Cancer of the liver:  1,588
   10.    Auricular hematoma (swollen, fluid-filled ear):  1,577

That’s a lot of dogs running around in cones of shame.

dog surgery

Looking at that list, a few things stand out to me.  One is that the third most common surgery is for tooth extractions.  Those are only done when a tooth is very diseased and causing pain to the dog.  This can be avoided with proper preventative dental care, which includes tooth brushing, cleanings and treats that clean teeth.  With preventative care, 9,476 surgeries (plus all those done and not covered by VPI) could have been avoided. 

Another interesting point on the list is just how many surgeries are cancer-related.  Malignant skin mass, spleen cancer, eyelid cancer and liver cancer accounted for 9,780 surgeries, making cancer the third-highest cause of surgeries on that list.  That one is a little tougher to wrap my head around because it just floors me that so many dogs end up with cancer, and it’s much tougher to prevent or predict than something like dental issues.  On the plus side, with skin masses leading to over 26,000 surgeries, it’s certainly a good thing that 85% of those turned out to be non-cancerous. 

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Photo credit:  Zevotron

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