Pre- and Post- Surgery Care for Your Pet

Pre- and Post- Surgery Care for Your Pet

Whether it’s routine spaying and neutering, orthopedic services, exploratory, soft tissue procedures or other, when your pet needs surgery it can be an overwhelming process for pet owners. However, with the proper pre- and post-surgery care and a veterinarian that you trust, there are steps you can take to help ensure your pet has a safe and smooth surgery, and that their recovery is as comfortable as possible.

Follow these care protocols before and after your pet’s surgery to help make sure they remain happy and healthy.


Ask your vet any questions you have prior to surgery day.

At Grand Valley, our team strives to provide clients with everything they need to know about their pet’s surgery, including steps to take before and after the procedure, but always encourage pet owners to ask any questions they may have. These conversations help to offer you a deeper understanding of how the surgery may benefit your pet, what you will need to do prior to surgery to help ensure a successful procedure, and what you can expect afterwards to help your pet heal.  

Do not feed your pet after 9:00 pm the night before surgery.

As with humans, pets need to go into surgery on a completely empty stomach for their safety. Under anesthesia, pets lose the ability to swallow, so if the stomach contracts during surgery and forces vomit up into the mouth, they won’t be able to swallow it back down. This can cause inhalation of the stomach’s contents into the lungs resulting in pneumonia or even lead to suffocation, so an empty stomach is vital to a safe surgical procedure.

Water is okay the night before surgery, but remember – no breakfast, snacks, or treats the morning of the operation. If your pet has a special condition in which withholding food is tricky, such as diabetes, be sure to speak with your vet well in advance before the scheduled surgery to receive clear instructions on exactly how to prepare your pet for the procedure.

Confirm with your vet if your pet’s regular medications can be administered.

If your pet takes any type of medication, check with your vet at least 2 weeks prior to your pet’s surgery to determine if these meds should still be administered during the weeks or days leading up to the surgery. Certain medications can interfere, while others may be no problem, so it’s important to consult with your vet.

Ensure your pet eliminates prior to bringing them into the clinic.

On the morning of the surgery, make sure your pet has plenty of time to relieve themselves with a brief walk before you bring them into your veterinary clinic for their surgery appointment.

Leave a reliable phone number.

Make sure that your vet has a reliable phone number to reach you. This is very important to ensure the clinic can reach you anytime throughout the day to notify you of progress.


Protect your pet by providing safe, comfortable places for them in the car and at home.

As the anesthesia wears after surgery, your pet may become disoriented and not act 100% like themselves. To keep them safe, it is vital to ensure they have a secure, comfortable place to rest on the car ride home from the vet’s office. When you arrive home, provide your pet with a soft, clean bed in a warm and quiet area so they can get some uninterrupted rest. This will help their healing process and get them back to normal as quickly as possible. 

Dog sleeping

Give your pet access to fresh water but hold off on food until the next morning.

For dogs, don’t feed them after surgery; resume a normal diet the next morning. For cats, wait a few hours after you arrive home before offering them about half of their normal meal serving.

Anesthetics can cause loss of appetite, so it’s common for pets not to be too hungry post-surgery anyway, but this is an important part of making sure they are slowly easing themselves back into their routine and not upsetting their stomach.

Restrict exercise, such as running or jumping, for 7 days.

Exercise can cause stress on the incision site, risking the possibility of opening sutures and affecting the healing process. Ask what type of exercise will be okay for your pet; low activity like exercise like short walks may be fine after a few days – consult with your veterinarian before bringing your pet home.

Avoid baths; keep sutures dry for 7-10 days.

Moisture on the sutures can risk infection. Along with not bathing them, ensure they’re not licking their incision, and do not apply any ointments or creams unless directed by your vet.

Administer medications according to the label directions.

Only give your pet medications that have been administered and directed by your vet in the correct dosage. Again, if your pet was taking medication prior to surgery, ensure it’s okay after the procedure as well. Contact your vet if you’re worried that the medications are affecting your pet too little or too much.

Unless directed otherwise, you will not need to remove your pet’s sutures.

In most cases, when the incision naturally heals, the sutures will dissolve on their own. If you have any questions or concerns about this, contact your vet.

Carefully watch your pet’s incision and keep their cone on as directed.

Keeping a close eye on your pet’s incision and ensuring it is not irritated is essential to helping your pet heal as quickly as possible. If your vet directs you to keep your pet’s protective cone on for any length of time, make sure you follow these instructions closely – no matter how much it may or may not appear to bother your pet – for their own wellbeing.

If there are any problems with your pet or their incision, contact your vet.

If your pet’s incision appears red or swollen, has excessive discharge, or if a cough persists for more than 3 days, contact your vet immediately. As with any open incision, there is always a small risk of infection. While following the above protocols will help enable proper healing, any incision can run the risk of infection so it’s vital to closely watch your pet’s surgical site and reach out for proper follow-up treatment if needed.

Follow these protocols to help your pet find the best path to a comfortable healing process, and full recovery so that your pet can go back to their normal routine as quickly as possible. At Grand Valley Animal Hospital, our team is here to answer any of your questions and help you feel well-prepared for your pet’s pre- and post-surgery care. For more information on these protocols or general questions on your pet’s surgery, give us a call at 701.757.3500.

read more
Clinic Protocols: Improving Vet Visits for Your Pet

Clinic Protocols: Improving Vet Visits for Your Pet

Everyone here at GVAH is happy to see that there is some normalcy returning to our lives and hopefully yours. Going through this pandemic has been stressful for everyone and we are proud that people have come together to help one another and allow us to have still been able to provide veterinary care for their pets during this ordeal.

Throughout this time of challenges and shifts in operation has come insightful knowledge that offers opportunities to continue improving the way in which we provide a safe and as stress-free environment as possible for our patients. Providing compassionate care that focuses on what is best for the animals in our care is always at the forefront of everything we do here at GVAH.

From these insights, we have adjusted our protocols long-term to adopt some of the procedures that have been put in place throughout the last year that have proven to be exceptionally beneficial to the pets in our care as well as improve the safety of our team.

1 Client Per Appointment

We will continue to limit only 1 person in the exam room for routine examinations or discussions.

What benefits does this protocol provide?

Through this pandemic, we have found that most of the animals who come to visit us are much more compliant and less stressed when their owners are not present for their examinations and routine care. Additionally, in emergency situations having more than one owner in the room may seem like the right thing to do for emotional support, but can oftentimes actually pose a threat to the pet by making it more difficult for the veterinary team to address the urgent medical issue.

Furthermore, limiting the small exam rooms to three people – doctor, technician, and owner – greatly improves the working conditions and health safety for our staff.

What about end-of-life or serious conditions?

We know how traumatic and emotionally stressful it can be to care for pets experiencing serious health conditions or nearing the end of their lives. For appointments of this nature, we are more than willing to make exceptions and allow two family members to be in the exam room to help slightly ease your stress during these trying times.

Limited Lobby Access

When you arrive for your appointment, we request that you remain in your car until the exam room is ready. To notify us that you’ve arrived, please use one of the following options:

  1. Text us at 701-291-4074
  2. Pop in, without your pet, to the front desk
  3. Call us at 701-757-3500

Curbside service

Our team will gladly continue to offer curbside service for any clients who wish to keep receiving their veterinary care this way. Here again, we’ve seen how less foot traffic in the lobby has greatly contributed to lowered stress impact on pets, while also providing added convenience and efficiency for pet owners. We’ve found this rings especially true for our clients with physical limitations, parents with small children, or those that would just rather sit in their comfortable vehicle rather than our small exam rooms.

Our entire staff here at GVAH is grateful for the continued support of our clients and the opportunity to keep providing your pets with the best possible care and environment. The health and happiness of the animals we care for is truly at the heart of why we do what we do every day. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of that in your pet’s life. If you have any questions about these new long-term protocols, please don’t hesitate to contact our team at 701-757-3500 or

read more
4 Tips for Traveling with Your Pet

4 Tips for Traveling with Your Pet

Summer is a wonderful time to pack a bag and set out on an adventure by yourself or with a loved one. For many people, their go-to travel buddy is their dog, cat, or other beloved pet. Whether you’re flying or taking a road trip to a fun destination with your furry friend, planning a trip involving your pet requires research and preparation to ensure your animal gets the care it needs during your vacation. Continue reading to learn four tips for traveling with your pet.

A brown dog in a carrier on a train with his owner

Secure Your Pet

If traveling with your pet conjures up images of them riding shotgun with their head hanging out the window and ears flapping in the wind, you might want to rethink that idea. One of the most important aspects of traveling with your pet is making sure they are safely secured in a carrier or on a special harness, depending on their size.

Securing your pet will keep both of you safe by preventing driver distraction, injuries, and the chance of escape if an accident occurs. Also, make sure that your pet has a collar and ID tag with your name and phone number so people can contact you in case they are temporarily separated from you during the vacation.

Make Frequent Stops

Traveling requires intermittent stops to use the bathroom, stretch your legs, and drink water, and the same goes for your pet. Before you leave for your vacation, map out pet-friendly rest stops with lots of space for your pet to burn off extra energy, and be sure to bring along some food, a water bowl, and a waste scoop. If you have a dog, pack extra doggy bags in case there are not any available at the rest stop to keep the area clean for other guests.

Most importantly, never leave your pet alone in the car – even for a few minutes with the window open. Your car can overheat or freeze faster than you think and endanger your pet’s life. If you are traveling alone with your pet, plan out locations that allow your pet to come with you.

Follow the Rules

Airlines, trains, hotels, and other travel accommodations have special rules regarding pets, so it’s important to do your research beforehand so you know what equipment and documents to bring, if applicable. For example, if you plan on flying with your pet, you may have to pre-arrange your travel with the airline, as they typically regulate how many and what size pets can travel in the cabin.

You may also have to show a health certificate and proof of vaccinations and potentially purchase a pet carrier in a specific size with soft sides. Check with your airline or hotel for the exact rules and potential pet fees.

A veterinarian and vet assistant examine a white Boxer dog in a pet clinic

Keep Pets Relaxed and Protected

Travel can be stressful for some pets, especially if they associate car rides with trips to the vet. This may require calming medications to keep them calm and comfortable if they suffer from travel anxiety and carsickness. You may also want to schedule an appointment with our team to assess your pet’s needs and determine what medications they should take, if any. We can also confirm that they are up to date on their vaccinations and heartworm, flea, and tick medications.

If you will be traveling with your pet soon, we would be happy to help you with any questions to ensure your vacation is enjoyable for everyone involved! Contact us today at 701-757-3500.

read more
Pet Pain – Why Animals Hide It and What You Can Do to Help

Pet Pain – Why Animals Hide It and What You Can Do to Help

Would you know if your pet was in pain? Most of us would like to think so, but sometimes pets are exceptionally good at hiding their discomfort. Apparent signs of illness such as bloody stool, seizures or extreme weight loss are more obvious, but some are so subtle they can be unnoticed by their human counterpart.

While annual wellness visits help vets detect physical abnormalities or potential health risks, we must rely heavily on our patient’s owners when it comes to behavioral changes that could indicate your pet is experiencing pain.

Additionally, if you notice something is off with your pet, time is of the essence. This is especially true for small pocket pets such as guinea pigs, mice and rabbits whose illnesses can progress extremely fast.

Cat laying down in pain

Why do pets hide pain?

Even though they sense and process pain similarly to humans, hiding pain is a behavior animals developed long ago in the evolutionary process. This was necessary to protect themselves from predators during times of injury or sickness. Even though they’ve been domesticated for thousands of years, this adaptive advantage has remained ingrained in our pets to this day.

Plus, pets love to please their humans. Dogs have been known to fracture their pelvis and still get up eagerly to greet their owner with loving affection, making it hard for us to tell whether or not they are actually in pain.

Why it’s important to treat:

Despite the obvious reason of not wanting your pet to be in pain, it’s extremely important that their pain is managed and treated in order to improve their recovery process, whether it’s from illness, surgery or injury. Treating your pet’s pain will relieve them of stress, increasing their well-being, and help them live a longer, healthier life.

How can I tell if my pet is in pain?

When our pets are in pain, the signs they show tend to be very subtle and more behavior-related. This requires owners to be very observant of their pet’s daily activities and to monitor any changes to discuss with their vet.

Bird hanging head down in discomfort

Here are some common signs to look for:

  • Decreased Activity – Much like humans, when pets experience pain, they tend to decrease their level of activity and overall zest for life or play. This goes for all pets of all sizes, from cats and dogs to birds and gerbils.
  • Decreased Appetite – ­also true for pets of all shapes and sizes, if eating is significantly decreased or stopped altogether, you should visit your vet. Chronic mouth pain or dental disease in pets can be a cause of this.
  • Difficulty Standing After Lying Down – If your pet is slower to get up from a nap or cuddle session, this could be an early sign of osteoarthritis, which can be painful for dogs and cats.
  • Not Going Up or Down Stairs – Used to seeing your pet hop up the stairs with no problem? If you notice a change in the way they climb stairs, or lack thereof, this could be a sign they are experiencing joint pain or have an existing injury keeping them from their usual spryness.
  • Grooming and Appearance – Notice your pet excessively grooming a particular area? This could be a sign of referred pain, which is pain they feel in a part of their body that is actually different from its true source. Coats, feathers and skin can also show subtle signs indicating illness. Birds’ feathers get ruffled, pets like hamsters and rats experience a coarser coat and reptiles’ skin can become dull.
  • Posture and Stance – Smaller pets like birds and rabbits will frequently tilt or hang their head when they are sick. Additionally, birds tend to hang out at the bottom of their cage or on lower perches or stand in a huddled position when they are not feeling well.
  • Reluctant to Jump Up onto Surfaces – Especially true for cats who tend to like being higher up, the reluctance to jump up on their usual surfaces could be a sign that they are experiencing pain.
Beagle laying down because of pain

Every Pet is Different

An important piece to remember is that every animal is different. From cats and dogs to different breeds and circumstances, each pet’s body and potential pain experiences are unique. The best way to decipher if your pet may be in pain is the keen observation of signs or symptoms, and detailed tracking of any behavioral changes.

If your pet is acting differently or you suspect they are in pain, set up an appointment with your vet right away to discuss your concerns. For more information on pet pain and what you can do to care for your animal, give us a call today at 701.757.3500.


read more
Protect your Pet Against Heartworms, Fleas, and Ticks

Protect your Pet Against Heartworms, Fleas, and Ticks

As excited as we are for the arrival of spring, we can’t forget about the hazards outside that can potentially harm our pets. Let’s learn about what we should be aware of when our four-legged friends are playing on those green fields.


Heartworms are parasitic worms that can affect the lungs, heart and blood vessels of our pets. They can be painful and potentially fatal if not treated. Dogs, and occasionally cats, are susceptible to heartworm disease, which is passed through mosquitoes.

Limit Exposure

More time outside means more potential for mosquitoes to prey on your pets, but you can’t simply use insect repellents on animals as they can be toxic to dogs and cats. Instead, protect your furry friends against mosquito bites by keeping them indoors during high-risk time periods, removing stagnant water in your yard, and keeping them away from marshy areas.

Testing & Preventative Medications

GVAH recommends bringing in your pet yearly for heartworm testing – early detection of this disease is the key to minimizing lasting damage that can be done to your dog’s quality of life. We also recommend a year-round prescription preventative medication regimen to help protect your pet.

For dogs, we offer heartworm preventatives like Interceptor® Plus to help stop heartworms, tapeworms, and other worms before they become an issue. For cats, we offer Bravecto® Plus for protection from fleas and ticks, plus prevents heartworm disease and treats intestinal worms. Contact us for more information about heartworms and necessary prevention.


Fleas may not seem like a big deal, but along with itching, scratching, and potential hair loss, your pet could receive skin allergies and other parasites like tapeworms from these pesky parasites. Fleas tend to live in the same shady, protected areas that your animals love to lie down in outside.

Once a flea infestation has taken hold of your pet’s fur, your home is likely to become a flea circus as well. Treating your home and yard when infestations occur will help to break the cycle but treating your pet regularly is the best way to stop fleas in their tracks before they make a new home on your pet’s fur. Oral or topical preventatives will save you money, time, and flea frustration in the long run.


Ticks and tick-borne illnesses, like Lyme disease, can be spread through humans and animals. Lyme disease left untreated can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system and create painful arthritis. In addition to vaccinating your pet annually for Lyme disease, deter ticks and fleas with a topical or an oral medication such as Credelio® for dogs and Bravecto® Plus for cats.


What can you use to protect your pets from these pests and your pocketbook from costly treatment for these diseases? At Grand Valley, we work to find the best option for you and your animals. We offer the most powerful, convenient preventatives available that will help to keep your dog or cat safe and healthy in the fight against pesky parasites.

Simparica TrioTM provides your dog with the most advanced parasite preventative benefits in a single easy-to-give, liver-flavored monthly chewable that can be given with or without food. This simple solution prevents heartworm disease, kills fleas and ticks, while also treating and controlling roundworms and hookworms in your pet, and is safe for puppies as young as 8 weeks old that weigh at least 2.8 lbs. 

BRAVECTO® PLUS offers your cat protection from fleas and ticks, plus prevents heartworm disease and treats intestinal worms, including roundworms and hookworms. This premium product helps to ease the stress of treatment by offering convenient long-lasting, single topical doses that last 2 months.

To learn more about these or any other pet preventative medications we offer, or order prescription refills, don’t hesitate to contact our staff at GVAH. If you require a specific product, take a look at our online store. We offer a wide variety of options and are more than happy to assist you in finding the right items for your pet.

read more
The Basics of Bird Care

The Basics of Bird Care

Looking for an outgoing, quirky, lifelong friend that is the life of the party but also a great listener? Then you may want to consider coming home to a pet bird! From their low-maintenance lifestyle to their intelligence, calling a bird your companion can chase away loneliness and mean a friend for life.

Learn all about the basic needs and care of birds for those who are interested in adding a feathery friend to their nest!

Finding the Right Bird for You

Just like any other pet, it is important to select a breed of bird based on your lifestyle and living arrangements. Are you a first-time bird owner? Then you may want a low-maintenance and easy-to-care-for parakeet. If you live in an apartment and prefer not to receive multiple noise complaints, a green-cheeked conure may be the bird for you. If you want a true lifelong friend, some breeds of birds, such as the macaw, can live up to 80 years!

Make sure to take the time to do your research when choosing a breed to own. Also, consider your environment; while most healthy birds can tolerate temperatures that are comfortable for their owners, sudden changes in temperature and humidity can spell potential threats to your feathery friends. Birds also love fresh air and sunlight, but like any other animal, they need to be closely monitored while exposed to the outdoors.

Giving Your Bird The Perfect Home

Another extremely important part of being a bird owner is choosing and setting up a cage. If your bird will be confined most of the time, make sure to get the largest cage that your home can accommodate. The cage will need to be wider and taller than your bird, to accommodate stretched wings and long tail feathers, and should be made of a non-toxic material that resists being able to be dismantled by your bird and that is easy to clean. You will also want to make sure the cage contains multiple clean, easily replaceable perches that are the appropriate size based on breed to exercise your bird’s feet and keep them healthy.

Food and water dishes are a necessity, along with safe toys made specifically for birds to promote exercise, mental stimulation, and beak wear. Additionally, it is important to clean droppings from your bird’s cage at least once a week if you use a lining such as newspaper, and more often if there is no lining. If you choose to cover your bird’s cage at night, use a single-layer, lightweight, breathable fabric and only cover three sides to allow for proper ventilation.

Green and yellow parakeet sits on persons hand.
Pet bird sits on perch in cage.

Feeding Your New Family Member

One of the most important parts of your bird’s care, and the most misunderstood, is what type of food they need to be fed. While birdseed is great for your outdoor feeder, it won’t cut it for an everyday meal if you want your feathery friend to receive proper nutrition. We recommend a diet of bird pellets in order to provide a balanced diet. This can be supplemented with seed treats and bird-safe fruits and vegetables such as apples, grapes, bananas, corn, broccoli, and carrots. Avoid fruit seeds, houseplants, alcohol, and tobacco products, which are unhealthy and toxic to birds.

Veterinary Care For Your Bird

Proper grooming and veterinary care are where we can help. We have a special interest in birds unique to the region and can do anything from wing, beak, and nail trims to bone repair, surgery, and treating egg-bound birds. While birds make wonderful pets, it is important to realize that like other prey animals, they hide sickness well. If you notice that your bird is acting abnormally, such as sitting on the bottom of the cage, ruffling feathers consistently, trembling, or any of these symptoms, it is extremely important to bring them to your veterinarian sooner rather than later.

To visit with our vets about whether a pet bird is right for you, or to bring your current bird in for a checkup, call 701.757.3500 and request an appointment today.

Green parakeet eats bird food.
read more