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What Is Pet Cryosurgery?

By September 25, 2023 blog

While petting your beloved four-legged friend, you notice a growth on their skin. Following an examination, your veterinarian may recommend pet cryosurgery, also known as cryotherapy. The experts at Midway Animal Hospital explain what this procedure entails, the conditions it treats, and whether or not your pet may be a candidate for cryosurgery.

Learn more about this common procedure in this helpful guide, and don’t hesitate to contact our office with additional questions.

Understanding Pet Cryosurgery

Cryotherapy uses extreme cold to destroy abnormal tissue. Your pet may need this procedure if they have skin conditions like warts or small tumors on the inside of their mouth. It’s an effective treatment for diseased tissue and is non-invasive.

Depending on your pet’s condition, they may need more than one treatment to achieve total tissue destruction. However, many minor skin conditions heal with just one cryosurgery procedure. Some of the most common conditions that will require this treatment include:

  • Hemangiomas: Small skin nodules that fill with blood
  • Papillomas: Warts caused by the papillomavirus that may appear on the skin or inside of the pet’s mouth
  • Sebaceous: Waxy nodules that are most prevalent in middle-aged or senior pets

Benefits of Cryosurgery

Don’t fret if your veterinarian recommends this procedure. Cryosurgery is non-invasive, so your pet won’t have any stitches that need to heal. As a result, your pet is less likely to lick or scratch the area like they would after a traditional surgical procedure, which can hinder their recovery.

They will feel no pain during the procedure because of anesthesia, and come out of surgery looking much healthier. Over time, the diseased tissue will die off, and your pet will be free of unsightly and dangerous masses. It’s a highly effective procedure that is successful at shrinking mouth tumors and virus-related warts.

How Do Veterinarians Perform Pet Cryosurgery?

The procedure itself is fairly simple. Veterinarians typically follow this checklist when freezing warts or destructive tissue. Learn more about the procedure so you know exactly what to expect if your pet needs treatment.

Testing the Mass

Not all lumps and bumps are viable for cryotherapy. Your veterinarian will first need to test the mass on your pet’s skin to determine if they can perform this procedure. They will collect cells from the mass and examine them to see if this treatment is an option.

Administering Anesthesia

General anesthesia is an option for this procedure, but most pets will only need light sedation or a local anesthetic. The doctor will determine which option is best for your pet and make sure that they feel no pain during the procedure.

Applying Liquid Nitrogen

Once your pet is under sedation, the doctor will start to perform pet cryosurgery. They take liquid nitrogen and apply it to the site to immediately freeze the nearby cells and slowly destroy tissue. Some of the ways that doctors apply liquid nitrogen include:

  • Spraying it onto the mass
  • Using a cotton swab
  • Using a tube known as a cryoprobe

Another option that some veterinarians rely on is the Joule-Thompson effect. This involves taking cryoneedles and using argon gas to trigger ice formation. Using this technique gives doctors more control over the tissue they freeze and helps minimize any complications.

Providing After-Care Instructions

Cryotherapy only takes a few minutes to complete per mass. Once the doctor finishes freezing all of them, they will give you detailed instructions for your pet’s recovery, and you and your four-legged friend are ready to go home.

Follow-Up Care and Procedures

In most cases, your pet will only need one cryotherapy treatment. However, your doctor may recommend further treatment for more complex growths. Continue to monitor the size of the bump after every treatment to ensure that the infected tissue is dying, and reach out to your veterinary team with any concerns.

Additional Information About Cryosurgery

Many people may have additional concerns about cryosurgery; we aim to keep clients informed and give them peace of mind.

What To Expect After Pet Cryosurgery

The procedure, while fast and effective, does take some time to see full results. Unlike traditional surgery that removes the source of damage, cryosurgery freezes the tissue. The tissue takes up to about six weeks to die, so the mass will not disappear right away.

If your pet’s condition returns or only shrinks a little after their first treatment, you’ll likely need to have the veterinarian perform additional cryosurgeries. Your pet may feel groggy as the anesthesia wears off, but they are free to do their normal activities after cryosurgery.

Most after-care instructions involve cleaning the site. If your pet has sores within their mouth, the dying tissue may liquify and have a green appearance. Wipe the area as best as you can to remove the tissue and monitor your pet for any new sores or warts.

How Much Does Pet Cryosurgery Cost?

One of the great things about veterinary cryotherapy is that it provides excellent results at a lower cost than other procedures. You can treat your pet’s condition without breaking the bank since this procedure doesn’t typically require putting your pet under general anesthesia. Other surgeries that do use anesthesia cost significantly more and can take longer for the doctor to perform.

Pet cryotherapy usually calls for one quick visit to the animal clinic and is much less expensive, even if your pet needs further treatments.

Is Your Pet a Candidate for Cryosurgery?

Bring your dog or cat to the doctor if you notice any suspicious warts or bumps on their skin. Your veterinarian will determine if the growth can be destroyed using freezing technology. Middle-aged or senior pets are usually good candidates for cryotherapy because they are more prone to develop certain growths and would benefit from a non-invasive treatment.

Contact Midway Animal Hospital To Keep Your Dog or Cat Healthy

If you find a growth on your pet’s skin, don’t hesitate to bring them to a veterinarian. Midway Animal Hospital proudly offers full veterinary services, including pet cryosurgery, to those throughout the greater Alpharetta area. Give our friendly team a call today at (770) 475-2003 to learn more or to schedule an appointment.