The Animal Hospital of Sussex County is proud to be the only veterinarian in the area to offer cryosurgery for pets. Cryosurgery is a surgical technique which utilizes liquid nitrogen or nitrous oxide to freeze unwanted tissue and consequently destroys it. Used in people as well as in dogs and cats, the treatment causes the tissue which is frozen to fall off or dissolve. This may take up to 4 weeks, and fortunately there is very little discomfort to the pet during this process.

Cryosurgery for pets is a safe treatment alternative to traditional surgery and has proven to be very successful for a variety of conditions. Any time a patient is reviewed for surgery, cryosurgery can be considered an option as long as the issue is on the outer layer of the skin. This makes it a good option for tumors, cysts, skin tags, and other skin disorders, including some forms of cancer. Because the technique freezes the offending tissue, there is very little discomfort after the procedure and usually there is no need for sutures.

Some of the benefits include not having to be anesthetized which is a very large benefit for elderly or sensitive pets. In addition, small skin tumors can bother your pet when they see and feel them and often times if left untreated, they can go on to be a malignancy if not taken out. Removal when the tumor or cyst is small via cryosurgery can prevent major complications including rupture or infection, if left untreated.

Top: pre-surgery, middle: 2 weeks post-cryosurgery, bottom: 2 months post-cryosurgery

What to Expect from Cryosurgery

Many pets that are not good candidates for traditional surgery, do exceptionally well with cryosurgery. Even young, healthy cats and dogs that have skin tags or cysts that need to be removed can benefit from this procedure as it is less invasive and requires less recovery time than traditional surgical procedures.

When performing cryosurgery for pets, there are a few things to consider. Depending on the size and location of the area to be frozen, your pet may or may not need to be tranquilized or anesthetized. Whenever possible on minor issues such as skin tags or small skin growths, we are able to perform this procedure in the office without any sedation needed. Due to the extreme cold temperature of the liquid nitrogen, the pet does not feel pain as the nerve endings are immediately frozen. This also means that as the dog or cat recovers and the unwanted tissue sloughs off, they still do not feel pain that may be associated with traditional surgery.

In addition to being less painful and in many cases safer than traditional surgery for your dog or cat, it also has some cost benefits for you! Prices for cryosurgery are often less than that of a regular surgical procedure, making this a win-win for both you and your pet!

Additional Cryosurgery Information

You can read the story of one of our first cryosurgery patients, a 15 year old deaf cat named Cori, on our blog where we used cryosurgery for the treatment of her feline cerumonius cystomatosis.

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