VCA Veterinary Specialty Center of Seattle



When your pet needs surgery, you’ll want a surgeon who has had advanced training and lots of experience in the most up-to-date surgical techniques. The surgeons at VCA Veterinary Specialty Center of Seattle perform thousands of complicated, specialized surgeries every year. Our surgical suites have the most modern equipment and patient monitoring capabilities to safeguard your pet’s health. After surgery, your pet will be monitored by our doctors and their team of incredible veterinary technicians, who under the direction of the surgeon, assure your pet is clean, comfortable, free of pain and on the road to recovery.

When scheduling a surgical appointment, we offer referral coordinators for your convenience: call us at 425.697.6106 or email

VCA Veterinary Specialty Center of Seattle offers a wide variety of surgical services, including:


•Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy (TPLO)
•Cranial Cruciate Ligament Repair Intracapsular/Extracapsular
•Fracture Repair (all types, with application of multiple forms of orthopedic appliances including plate fixation, screw fixation, pin and wire, circle ring fixators, bone staples, rush pins)
•Luxation repair (all joints)
•Patella Luxation Surgery (multiple types)
•Angular Limb Deformity Surgery
•Arthrodesis of any joint
•Corrective Osteotomies
•Joint stabilization
•OCD Surgery (shoulder, stifle, elbow, hocks)
•Developmental orthopedic disease
•Tendon and Ligament Repair
•Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO) and other corrective surgeries for hip displaysia
•Repair of Spinal Fractures/Dislocation
•Spinal Fusion for Cauda Equina Syndrome
•Reconstruction or Repair of Facial, Nasal, or Jaw Fractures/Deformities

Soft Tissue

•Abdominal Surgery (including all parts of the digestive tract, liver, pancreas)
•Airway Surgery
•Colposuspension Surgery
•Ear Surgery including Total Ear Ablation and Bulla Osteotomy
•Hernia Repair
•Laser Surgery
•Nasal Surgery
•Oncologic surgery
•Oral Surgery
•Cardio/Thoracic Surgery
•Portosystemic Shunt (PSS)
•Thyroid/Parathyroid Tumor Removal
•Reconstructive and Plastic Surgery (Skin and Wound) including Grafting
•Salivary Mucocele Surgery
•Urologic/Urinary Surgery (kidney, ureters, bladder and urethra)
•Adrenal Glands

Why Does My Pet Need A Veterinary Surgeon?

Just as your own primary care physician may feel the need to refer you to the care of a specialist from time to time, your general practitioner veterinarian may feel your pet needs the additional expertise of a board certified surgeon for certain surgeries. In fact, many general practitioner veterinarians refer all but the most routine of surgeries to specialists �" including orthopedic and neurology cases, reconstructive surgeries, tumor removals, etc.

Board certified veterinary surgeons also are often affiliated with referral hospitals where they may have access to specialized diagnostic or surgical equipment, the latest and safest anesthesia monitoring equipment, physical therapy or rehabilitation capabilities, and other critical care services that a general practitioner may not have access to. All of these specialized services may be necessary for the optimal care and recovery of your pet.

You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when to refer you and your pet to a veterinary surgeon is one that is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of care for his or her problem.

Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?

Yes, our surgeons and veterinary specialists work very closely with your family practitioner. In most surgical cases, your family veterinarian will supervise your pet's veterinary care, especially if your pet is continuing to cope with a disease or chronic condition. It depends on your pet's particular disease and health problem; however, typically, your general practitioner veterinarian will oversee many aspects of your pet's pre-op and post-op care, just as in human medicine. Recovery periods are often prolonged in many surgical cases, particularly in orthopedic surgery, and it is very important to follow your veterinary team's recommendations concerning at-home recovery guidelines for your pet, follow up care and appointments, as well as any rehabilitation that has been prescribed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Additional Training Does A Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon Have?

Veterinarians who want to become board certified in small animal surgery must seek additional, intensive training to become a specialist and earn this prestigious credentialing. Specialty status is granted by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS). A veterinarian who has received this specialty status will list the initials, 'DACVS,' after his or her DVM degree. Or, the veterinarian may indicate that he or she is a 'Diplomate' of the ACVS. The word 'Diplomate' typically means the specialist has achieved the following:

• Obtained a degree in veterinary medicine from a university certified by the American Veterinary Medical Association following completion of undergraduate requirements.

• Completed a one year general internship, plus an additional three to four years of advanced training in a residency at a veterinary teaching hospital where the veterinarian will have trained with some of the best surgeons in the field and obtained hands on experience. Surgery residents also have to complete a case log in soft tissue, orthopedic, and neurologic surgery.

• Completed the credentialing application process established by the ACVS, including publication of research results.

• Passed a rigorous examination.

After completing and passing all of these rigorous requirements, the veterinarian is then recognized by his or her peers as a board certified specialist in veterinary surgery. When your pet needs the care of a veterinary surgeon, years of additional training and education will be focused on helping him or her to recover from injury or illness and enjoy the highest quality of life possible.

Will My Pet Be in Pain?

Surgery is a major medical procedure and is often associated with pain in both animals and humans. You can be assured that your veterinary team'"your pet's general practitioner veterinarian, veterinary surgeon, and any other veterinary specialists involved in your pet's care'"will prescribe pain management options to help keep your pet as comfortable as possible before, during, and after surgery. If you are concerned about pain management for your pet, simply ask your veterinarian.

What are Common Referral Veterinary Surgeries?

• Tumor removal

• Limb amputation

• Cruciate ligament repair (TPLO's and other traditional methods)

• Hip replacement

• Surgical repair of elbow dysplasia

• Spinal problems/herniated discs

• Gastric dilatation/volvulus

• Wound management and skin reconstruction

• Congenital defects

• Urinary obstructions

• Cancer Surgeries

Cancer does appear to be becoming more common in both dogs and cats, most likely because they are simply living longer. However, early detection and specialized care are leading to increased survival and cure rates in almost all the types of cancers that afflict pets. From surgery to chemotherapy to radiation therapy, veterinary cancer specialists (link to cancer specialty page) can offer your pet the very latest diagnostic and treatment options and the best chance of survival. With optimal treatment, cancer in many cases simply becomes another manageable chronic disease.

Surgery is one of the most common treatment options for pets with cancer, and can lead to enhanced survival times and better quality of life for many affected pets. Your veterinary surgeon will work closely with your general practitioner or veterinary oncologist to ensure your pet is getting the very best care.


What are the most common Orthopedic Surgeries?

Three orthopedic surgeries that are commonly performed in pets are triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO), total hip replacement (THR), and cruciate ligament repair (TPLO).

In the TPO procedure, the bones of the pelvis are cut apart and rotated to more correct positions. In THR procedures, a dog's diseased hip joints are replaced with prosthetic ones. TPO's and THR's are two commonly used surgical techniques for the treatment of canine hip dysplasia (CHD), an inherited and potentially painful disease that affects the hip joints of millions of dogs. Cruciate ligament disease can
occur in both dogs and cats, who usually tear or rupture this ligament while exercising, playing, or simply landing incorrectly after a jump. The ligament will not heal without surgery. Surgery helps to stabilize the pet's knee joint and prevent further wear on the joint and associated structures. An increasingly common surgical technique to correct this situation is called the Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy'"or TPLO.

Anterior Cruciate Ligament Disease

The most common cause of rear limb lameness in dogs is a tear or rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This painful injury allows degenerative changes to occur in the pet's stifle joint (which, despite its location, actually corresponds to the human knee joint). Just as in people, this is a delicate joint, prone to traumatic injury, in which the 'kneecap' is held in place on top of the tibia by two cruciate ligaments. Rupture can occur when the joint is rotated unexpectedly, hyperextended, or when it is hit catastrophically from the side or the front. Certain conformational defects, such as crooked legs, can also lead to a slow degeneration of the joint over time.

There is a surgical correction, however, that can help alleviate the problem. Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy, or TPLO, is a procedure which puts the animal's knee joint back in proper alignment. During the surgery, the leg bones are cut and rotated to their proper positions and then stabilized using a metal plate and bone screws. As with any kind of complicated orthopedic surgery, the recovery period is crucial and the animal's activity must be severely limited. Patients must not be allowed to jump, play, run, climb up and down stairs, or do much more than walk quietly on a leash.

Elbow Dysplasia

The term elbow dysplasia refers to a degenerative disease of the elbow joint. There are several different potential causes for the problem, that may occur singly or at the same time in the same animal. Elbow dysplasia occurs primarily in medium to large breed dogs. Dogs with elbow dysplasia typically show signs of lameness before reaching one year of age, although in some cases lameness may not become apparent until middle age.

The treatment for this disease can involve surgical and/or medical options. If you think your dog is experiencing problems in his or her elbow joint, be sure to discuss your concerns with your veterinarian.

Hip Dysplasia

This is a hereditary, developmental disease that affects the hip joints of dogs. Certain breeds are more likely to be affected than others. Although its occurrence in large and giant breeds is well documented, there is evidence that it may also be present in smaller breed dogs and cats as well.

Poor conformation of the hip and thigh bone structures result in a 'looseness' of this ball and socket joint. This looseness allows the ball part of the joint to move in the socket, instead of remaining stable as it should in a healthy, normal, tight fit. This abnormal movement can create wear and tear in the joint, leading to arthritis. Although signs of the disease do not typically appear until after the dog matures, puppies as young as five to six months can be affected. Hip pain, stiffness, abnormal gait patterns, an
audible 'clicking' sound while walking, and a reluctance to exercise are all possible signs of hip dysplasia.

The disease is usually diagnosed using radiographs, or x-rays. The treatment for this condition is primarily surgical. In one type of procedure, the Triple Pelvic Osteotomy, or TPO, the bones of the pelvis are cut apart and rotated to more correct positions. In Total Hip Replacement (THR) procedures, a dog's diseased hip joints are replaced with prosthetic ones. The goal of both surgeries is to provide your pet with some measure of normal activity and function and to reduce the pain associated with the condition. A very high level of success is reported with these surgeries. However, as with all major procedures, it is very important to follow your veterinary surgeon's recommendations regarding recovery and rehabilitation.

Questions to Ask Your Veterinarian

Many owners are increasingly seeking specialized care for their pets, just as they do with other family members, in order to secure the very best outcome. If your pet is facing surgery, here are some questions you may wish to ask your general practitioner veterinarian:

• How often have you performed this type of surgery?

• Does the surgery require any special equipment?

• Is it available?

• Does my pet's surgery require a specialist?

• What should I expect the outcome of the surgery to be?

• What follow up care is necessary?

Source: The American College of Veterinary Surgeons

Can I make payments instead of having to pay at once?

Unfortunately, we do not offer payment plans. Payment is due at the time of service. We do offer Care Credit, a medical credit card, that offers a number of interest free and extended payment options.

You may apply at or in person at our hospital.

We also encourage you to explore the option of pet insurance or a medical savings account for your pet. Pet insurance plans still require you to pay the hospital up front and wait for reimbursement, so being prepared is key.

Do I need a referral from my regular veterinarian do see a specialists?

While we encourage you to always involve your regular veterinarian in the decision to seek specialty care, you are not required to have a referral in order to make an appointment. We will contact your veterinarian to obtain your pets recent medical records.

Whether you have been referred, are seeking a second opinion or are needing services your regular veterinarian doesn't provide, we would be happy to help.

Services Offered in Surgery

Veterinarians in Surgery


General Practice

We have over 600 animal hospitals in 41 states and 4 Canadian provinces that are staffed by more than 3,000 fully-qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 400 being board-certified specialists.

The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments such as wellness, spay/neuter, advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiology, neurology, boarding, and grooming. Services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

Find a VCA General Care Animal Hospital near you:


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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately 425-697-6106

VCA Veterinary Specialty Center of Seattle is here for you and your pet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No matter what the time of day or night we have a veterinarian and vet techs here to answer your questions and provide you and your pet with care in an emergency situation. 

Our emergency service is designed to be an extension of the services provided by your primary care veterinarian. When your vet is not available, our doctors and nursing staff are here to provide the emergency care your pet needs. In addition to emergency services, we are able to provide intensive care for critically ill pets that have been referred by primary care veterinarians.

Many patients are treated as outpatients. Should your pet require ongoing care, we may recommend that you return to your primary care veterinarian when the day practice opens. For unstable patients in need of further evaluation, arrangements can be made for continued hospitalization and when needed, evaluation by one of our specialists.

Please click here to download a copy of our Pet Emergency Handbook