Helping you understand what your pet's surgery day might be like

Our Wednesday Surgery Team explains what a typical surgery day looks like.

Dr. Coleman and Gwen in our surgery suite.

Dr. Coleman and Gwen in our surgery suite.

It is often an emotional and scary thing to leave your pet with us for the day. We want to share with you what our typical day looks like and who cares for your pet. Dr. Kraabel and Sarah work in surgery on Wednesdays along with Dr. Coleman and her assistant Jess.  Kelsey, Gwen and Lindsay are our talented Licensed Veterinary Technicians in surgery on Wednesdays.  As has been blogged before, Gwen is also a Certified Veterinary Pain Practitioner.

Surgery days can consist of a wide range of procedures, from spay and neuters to dental cleanings and dental surgeries, growth removals and exploratory surgeries. Admission appointments typically occur in the morning.  Surgery days are notoriously unpredictable.  Procedures can take hours longer than anticipated and time set backs are common.  Dr. Kraabel’s career long attempts to tame these realities have been unsuccessful.  

The receptionist, who has scheduled the appointment, compiled an estimate for the owner and put all the paperwork together, leads owner and patient to an exam room.  Diane, Celine, and Kristen commonly help you on our surgery morning.

Kelsey or Lindsay typically perform the bulk of Wednesday admissions and go over any questions or concerns about the planned procedures. Once all the paperwork is completed and the owner has said their “See you soon”, patients go for a ride in the elevator and head upstairs.  We let them push the elevator buttons.

Sarah and Jess holding Hendrix and Chico after their procedures

Sarah and Jess holding Hendrix and Chico after their procedures

Upstairs, Sarah, Jess, or the technicians record the temperature and weight and set up a kennel for them. As intimidating as this process can be for our patients we take pride in doing our best to console the patient with calming touch, tone, and words of comfort. Cuddling is common. Each kennel is covered with a soft towel or blanket where the patient waits for the procedure, sometimes more patiently than others.  They often receive calming medication at this point, even if their procedure is later in the day.  For our extra worried cats, we place hide away boxes in with them and a towel on the front of the kennel. They need to have a safe and private place to retreat. We also use calming pheromones like Feliway for cats and Adaptil for dogs to help calm their mood.

Each patient receives a pre-surgical exam from the doctor where they look at gum color and listen to the heart. The technician or assistant draws blood, if the patient needs preoperative blood work. Blood work makes sure their kidneys and liver are working normally. The anesthetic machine and monitors are prepared and set up and materials are collated for the planned procedure. A combination of sedative and pain medication are given into the patient’s muscle.  Typically, the assistant gives the patient a big hug or wraps them in a towel for restraint and sedative is injected into the thigh or muscles alongside the spine. Then, we wait for our patient to relax and fall asleep.

Once they are sleepy, their technician places an intravenous catheter. It is always important to have venous access while a patient is under anesthesia. Intravenous anesthesia is given until they are completely asleep to allow the placement of an endotracheal tube. Gas anesthetic and oxygen are turned on and intravenous fluids are started.

Dr. Kraabel shows Lindsay a tooth that needs to be removed.

Dr. Kraabel shows Lindsay a tooth that needs to be removed.

At this point, they are prepared for their surgery and the procedure then takes place. As we said, it may vary greatly how long a patient is under anesthesia but there is not a time limit. The patient’s vital signs are monitored closely throughout surgery by one of the technicians who stays with the patient throughout their procedure. Once the surgery is complete, the support staff will sit with the patient, vigilantly monitoring vital signs until they are able to sit up and swallow. Technicians also focus on pain management and administer post-operative pain medication as needed. At times, internal temperatures may drop during surgery.  The assistants and technicians wrap the patients in warm blankets often cradling and cuddling with them creating a comfortable and smooth recovery period. While the assistant aids in recovery, the doctor records the surgical notes and the technician finishes up filling post-op medications and discharge instructions. 

This is when we will call and let the patient's people know that everything went fine.

Performing surgical procedures is complicated with an intricate collaboration of talented and empathetic caregivers. Each team member is part of the puzzle and has a role in making sure every patient receives the best standard of care and comfort. Be consoled in knowing that when you leave your pet with us, we strive to treat them as our own. 


Sarah Kwon, BS, DVM candidate class of 2021

Timothy R Kraabel, DVM, DABVP (Canine/Feline Practice); Vice President, American Board of Veterinary Practitioners

Cats are Wonderful

Dr. Majeski and Erika show one way of gently restraining a cat

Dr. Majeski and Erika show one way of gently restraining a cat


Ask anyone at Lien, they will agree that I am a cat lady; whether or not I'm classified as a crazy one depends on who you ask, but I embrace the moniker wholeheartedly!  I love cats and am passionate about caring and advocating for them.  Cats are complicated creatures, with many differences from dogs that can make them challenging to handle or care for, so we do many things to make our practice more cat-friendly and fear-free.

I visit the cats in kitty boarding for cuddles daily, sometimes dispensing catnip or letting out the more confident ones for individual recess time.  We have Feliway plug-ins that disperse aerosolized synthetic calming pheromones, and anxious cats are given "privacy curtains" on their kennels to hide behind; the same goes for surgery and dental patients.  I also like to visit those patients to give them some love—most are happy to receive, even when anxious!

Sarah and Erika show how we can restrain without scruffing

Sarah and Erika show how we can restrain without scruffing

Sometimes, when cats get stressed, we wrap them in a towel to make them more comfortable

Sometimes, when cats get stressed, we wrap them in a towel to make them more comfortable


Handling and treating cats comes with its own set of challenges - they are often tired of being poked and prodded by doctors, then they have to deal with even more invasive procedures after the exam!  We do our best to bring treatments to an anxious cat, as keeping it in the room can greatly help.  Unlike dogs, cats often give very few or no warning signs before their fuse runs out, and they can strike out fast and hard, so knowing how to minimize stress and maximize safe handling is essential.

We always restrain animals in a gentle and supportive manner - some cats can be restrained by being held on their side by their scruff, while others do better wrapped in a towel, burrito-style.  Most cats are best for blood drawn from a back leg, but some will do very well for a jugular blood draw, usually performed on dogs.  We always prioritize diagnostics and treatments over things like toenail trims and anal gland expressions so that we accomplish the most important tasks in case the cat runs out of patience.

Another aspect of being cat-friendly is premedication.  We have some feline patients who are too fractious (aggressive) to handle or treat, and the mere prospect of wrangling a furious feline to get them to the clinic is enough to deter some owners from annual exams, only bringing the cat in when it is sick or injured.  Believe me, I know the feeling - my Bengals caterwaul and scream on the way to and at the vet, making visits unpleasant for all of us!  In order to minimize stress for the cat, owner, and clinic staff alike while simultaneously maximizing quality of care, our doctors will often prescribe a pre-visit sedative.

Gabapentin, a pain medication with excellent sedative and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties, has become a fast favorite among our doctors.  When assistants and technicians perceive that a patient is particularly stressed, we will often ask a doctor to prescribe a pre-visit medication so that the next visit will go more smoothly.  The combination of sedation and anti-anxiety can calm a cat, preventing the fight-or-flight response that leads to aggression and prevents treatment.

Cats are strange and wonderful creatures, and deserve our love and help.  They are often much more discerning and hard to please than dogs - no offense to either species! - but I think this is what makes them special.  As anyone who has met me knows, I am thrilled to meet every cat, whether or not they reciprocate the sentiment!  I have been sent to the ER with my share of cat bites, but I am not deterred from caring for them to the best of my ability, nor will I ever be.  I am glad to be practicing at a clinic like Lien, where we constantly strive to be cat-friendly and fear-free.

Erika Price, Veterinary Assistant

To see Erika and Mckenzy, a member of our kennel crew, in kitty boarding, visit:


4 Reasons to Adopt a Pet

Why Adopt a Pet?

Here are just a few reasons to adopt a pet:

1) Most pets at shelters have been vaccinated and spayed or neutered.

We highly recommend you bring your new dog or cat to the vet in the first few days of bringing them home.  But most pets from shelters have received their vaccines and have necessary paperwork to prove these vaccines have been done by a certified veterinarian.  They have also been spayed or neutered.  This can save you hundreds of dollars.

2) Just look at Cheddar, adoption pets are cute and you can pick their age, breed, etc.

If you are looking for a specific breed, you might have to be patient or do a little more research, but when you adopt a pet, you get to get more choices.

For information on geriatric pets,  click here .

For information on geriatric pets, click here.


3) You might have saved a life

Depending on various factors (namely age and temperament) of the pet you adopt, you might have saved a life.  Puppies, kittens, and well-behaved purebreds are likely to find homes, but geriatric and/or pets with health problems are often overlooked.

Did you know: lists the following as the most difficult to place:

  1. 28% Senior Pets
  2. 21% Pitbull type Pets
  3. 19% Adult Cats
  4. Pets with Special Needs

4) Most shelters offer additional information and/or support

Whether you are a long time pet owner or you are taking home your first furry friend, resources can always be useful.  Most shelters offer additional information on how to take care of your new pet.  Many also offer coupons to vets, pet insurance companies, and more.