August Dental Special | Full Dental Scale & Polish For Only $449 | T & Cs Apply

Types of Dog Surgery: Which Are Most Common in Australia?

Types of Dog Surgery

When it comes to our furry friends, we want nothing but the best for them. That includes their health and wellbeing. Pets are susceptible to the same ailments and injuries that humans are, and sometimes they require surgery.

There are a variety of reasons why your pet may need surgery ranging from routine procedures such as neutering/spaying and dental cleanings to more complex procedures such as orthopaedic surgery. Common orthopaedic surgeries in pets include hip dysplasia surgery, ACL repair surgery, and fracture repair surgery.

No matter what type of pet surgical services your dog needs, you can rest assured knowing that there are surgeons who are specially trained to perform these types of procedures on animals big and small every day. 

If you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s health, be sure to consult with your veterinarian. However, this article will give you an idea of the most common – and less common – surgeries performed on pets in Australia.

Read on to learn more!

What is the Difference Between Soft Tissue Surgery & Orthopaedic Surgery?  

When it comes to pet surgery, there are two main types: soft tissue surgery and orthopaedic surgery. 

Soft tissue surgery is any type of surgery that does not involve bones, joints, or the spine. Orthopaedic surgery, on the other hand, is any type of surgery that does involve bones, joints, or the spine. This can include procedures such as ACL repair, hip replacement, or spinal surgery. 

While both types of surgery are performed on the musculoskeletal system, orthopaedic surgery generally focuses on a specific area of the body, such as the spine or the knees. Soft tissue surgery generally includes a wider range of procedures and can be performed on any area of the body.

Soft Tissue Surgery in Pets 

Soft tissue surgery is a type of surgery that involves the organs and tissues that connect, support, or surround other structures and organs in the body. This includes the organs within the abdominal or thoracic cavities. 

Soft tissue surgery in pets includes procedures such as removing a mass from the liver or repairing a hernia. Injuries that commonly require soft tissue surgery include fractures, ligament damage, and muscle tears. 

If your pet has been injured or is suffering from a condition that affects their soft tissue, they may require surgery. While the thought of surgery can be daunting, it’s important to remember that soft tissue surgery is a common and often routine procedure for vets. 

Recovery times vary depending on the type of procedure performed but are typically short (a few days to a week). Most pets experience minimal discomfort after surgery and heal quickly with proper care.  

Types of Soft Tissue Surgery in Pets 

There are a number of reasons why your vet may recommend soft tissue surgery for your pet.


Desexing is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of an animal’s reproductive organs. This is the most common pet surgery performed in Australia. 

Neutering, or castration, is the surgical removal of an animal’s testicles. Spaying is the ovariohysterectomy of a female animal, or the removal of her ovaries and uterus. 

This surgery is typically performed on dogs, cats, and rabbits. 

Desexing is often performed when an animal is young (between 4 and 6 months old) but can also be done on older animals. The main purpose of desexing is to help control the animal population by preventing unwanted pregnancies. Neutering/spaying helps to reduce pet overpopulation by preventing animals from reproducing. 

Dental Surgery/Extraction

Just like humans, pets need their teeth cleaned on a regular basis to prevent tartar build-up, gum disease, and tooth loss. A professional dental cleaning involves removing tartar and plaque from your pet’s teeth above and below the gum line. Your veterinarian will also check for any signs of periodontal disease or tooth decay. If necessary, one or more teeth may also be extracted during a dental cleaning. 

Hernia Repair

Hernia repair surgery is a common operation for dogs. Hernias in dogs and puppies can occur when there is a weakness in the abdominal wall, and the intestines or other abdominal organs protrude through the opening. Hernia repair surgery involves closing the opening in the abdominal wall and returning the organs to their proper place. The surgery is typically performed under general anaesthesia, and most dogs recover quickly and without complications. 

In some cases, hernia repair surgery may be combined with other procedures, such as spaying or neutering. However, hernia repair surgery is a relatively simple and routine procedure, and most dogs make a full recovery.

Gastrointestinal Surgery 

Gastrointestinal surgery is generally performed to treat conditions that affect the stomach or intestines, such as blockages, cancers, or ulcers. Soft tissue surgery may be recommended to remove a foreign body that your pet has ingested (such as a toy they’ve eaten). This type of surgery can be challenging because the stomach and intestines are delicate organs; your veterinarian will take all necessary precautions to ensure that your pet has a successful surgery and recovery. 


Gastropexy is a surgical procedure performed to prevent gastric dilation volvulus (GDV), more commonly known as bloat or twisted stomach. This condition occurs when the stomach fills with gas and then rotates on itself; this prevents gas and food from passing through the stomach and into the intestines leading to severe bloating, discomfort, and potentially death if left untreated. A gastropexy involves permanently attaching the stomach to the abdominal wall to prevent GDV from occurring. This surgery is often performed at the same time as other surgeries such as spaying/neutering or dental cleanings/extractions. 

Cystotomy (Bladder Stone Surgery) 

Bladder stones are mineralized formations that develop in your pet’s urinary bladder. They can range in size from small grains of sand to large rocks and can cause urinary tract infections, urinary blockages, and kidney damage if left untreated. A cystotomy is a surgical procedure performed to remove bladder stones. During surgery, your pet’s urinary bladder will be opened via an incision in their abdomen so that the stones can be removed manually or with special instruments. 

Injury Repair

The most common reason is to repair an injury. This could be something like stitching up a deep laceration or soft tissue surgical techniques used for cruciate ligament rupture. This can also include removal of something lodged in the animal’s skin and fur. 

Mass Removal

One of the most common reasons for soft tissue surgery in pets is the removal of a mass or tumour. Masses can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), and your veterinarian will recommend the best course of treatment based on the type of mass, its location, and your pet’s overall health. In some cases, the entire mass may need to be removed; in other cases, only a biopsy (a small sample) may be taken for testing.

Reconstructive Surgery

Pets can also require reconstructive surgery due to birth defects, injuries, or tumours. Each case is unique, but some common examples of reconstructive surgeries performed on pets include joint reconstruction, tendon repair, and skin grafts. These types of surgeries can be complex and may require multiple procedures; your veterinarian will work with you to develop a treatment plan that is best for your pet’s individual needs.

Orthopaedic Pet Surgeries

Orthopaedic surgery is a type of surgery that focuses on the treatment of the musculoskeletal system. This type of surgery corrects injuries or problems with an animal’s bones, joints, ligaments, or tendons. It is usually done to correct a problem that is causing pain or limiting movement. 

Orthopaedic surgery can be very complex depending on the nature of the injury or condition being treated; surgeries can range from simple procedures such as insertion of metal pins to complex procedures such as joint replacement surgery or treatment of IVDD (intervertebral disc disease). Common orthopaedic procedures in pets include hip replacements and knee surgeries. 

There are some risks associated with any type of surgery, including orthopaedic surgery. However, orthopaedic surgeons are highly trained and experienced in performing these types of procedures and typically take every precaution to ensure a safe and successful surgery. The most common complications following orthopaedic surgery are infection and blood loss. 

The decision to have your pet undergo orthopaedic surgery should not be taken lightly. However, if your pet is in pain or has limited mobility due to an injury or joint disease, orthopaedic surgery may be the best option. These procedures can dramatically improve your pet’s quality of life by relieving pain and restoring mobility. 

Types of Orthopaedic Pet Surgery

 Let’s take a closer look at each of these types of surgeries.

Hip Dysplasia Surgery

One of the most common orthopaedic procedures performed on pets is hip dysplasia surgery. Hip dysplasia in dogs occurs when the hip joint doesn’t form properly, causing pain and lameness. This condition is especially common in large breed dogs but can also affect smaller breeds. 

Hip dysplasia surgery involves replacing the hip joint with an artificial joint. This surgery can be performed as a partial or total hip replacement. However, it’s also common for the hip joint to be removed rather than replaced. This is most effective in dogs under 25kg, though can yield positive results in dogs up to 40kg. The benefits of removing the joint includes fewer complications, faster recovery time and a lower cost than hip replacement. 

ACL Repair Surgery

The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is one of the main stabilising ligaments in the knee joint. It can be torn due to injury or overuse. ACL repair surgery involves replacing the ACL with a tendon or artificial ligament. This type of surgery is commonly performed on dogs, but can also be done on cats and other animals. Knee reconstruction surgeries (such as TPLO or Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteotomy) aim to correct the underlying conformation of the knee joint. 

Fracture Repairs

Fracture repair surgery is performed to fix broken bones. The type of fracture repair surgery will depend on the type and location of the fracture. Fracture repair surgery can be performed using screws, plates, pins, or external fixation devices. This type of surgery is commonly performed on all types of animals.

What Can I Expect if My Dog or Cat Needs Surgery?

The specifics of the procedure will depend on the type of surgery your pet is having. However, there are some general things you can expect. 

Before the procedure begins, your pet will be given anaesthesia so they are completely asleep and pain-free during the surgery. Once they are under anaesthesia, the surgical site will be shaved and prepped with antiseptic solution. The actual procedure will usually take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. 

Afterward, your pet will be taken to recovery where they will be monitored until they wake up from the anaesthesia. Once they are awake and stable, they will be discharged into your care with specific instructions on post-operative care. These instructions may include things like restricting activity levels, giving pain medication, and returning for follow-up appointments. 

If your pet is in need of surgery, contact your veterinarian to discuss the best course of treatment for your furry friend.

Related Questions 

Is Surgery Risky for Pets? 

If you’re considering orthopaedic surgery for your pet, it’s important to weigh the risks and benefits carefully. Orthopaedic surgeons are highly skilled and experienced in performing these types of procedures, but there are still some risks associated with any type of surgery. 

Is Orthopaedic Surgery Worth It for Pets? 

If your pet is in pain or has limited mobility due to an injury or joint disease, orthopaedic surgery may be the best option. These procedures can dramatically improve your pet’s quality of life by relieving pain and restoring mobility.

What is an Orthopaedic Vet? 

Orthopaedic surgery is a branch of veterinary medicine that deals with the diagnosis and surgical treatment of diseases and injuries of the musculoskeletal system in animals.

How Do I Know If My Pet Needs Orthopaedic Surgery?

If your pet has suffered an injury or has been diagnosed with a condition affecting their musculoskeletal system, talk to your veterinarian about whether orthopaedic surgery may be right for them.


This article is published in good faith, for general informational and educational purposes only. Paws and More Vet Centre does not make any warranties about the ongoing completeness and reliability of this information. This article should not be used as a substitute for veterinary advice, including for diagnosis or treatment of a pet’s medical condition. Always consult a veterinary professional before making decisions on your pet’s health.