Surgery Guide

What to Expect

Surgery recommendations are made following an ophthalmic exam. Many of our surgeries require additional diagnostic testing such as electroretinograms, ocular ultrasound, and bloodwork before deciding if the patient is a good candidate. We will provide you with written estimates of all recommended procedures before performing them. With your consent, diagnostics and surgery can be scheduled.

How much will it cost?

The cost of surgery will vary depending on the procedure and variations during the surgery. We include the first post-operative recheck in this cost (not including additional medications or unexpected tests). However, most of our procedures require several follow-up exams and an intensive medication regimen in the months following surgery. The financial and time commitment this entails is important to consider when deciding if surgery is the right thing for you and your companion.

Is financing available?

We offer financing through a company called CareCredit, who can finance the cost of surgery for up to one year without interest. You may apply for a line of credit online or on the phone at 1 (800) 365-8295. If you are approved, you will be given an account number that you can begin using right away. You will receive a CareCredit card in 7-10 days, and a statement will be mailed to you monthly. If you are using a CareCredit payment plan to cover the cost of surgery and would like to lump future rechecks into this sum, please let us know and we can make the necessary arrangements.

We know medical care can be an expensive and sometimes overwhelming responsibility in owning a pet. These organizations may be able to provide assistance to pets whose medical cost prevent them from receiving treatment.

What kind of aftercare will be necessary?

Though some surgeries, such as enucleations (eye removal), will only need one post-operative examination and minimal medications, the majority of our procedures require several follow-up examinations in the weeks and months following surgery, along with daily topical and oral medications, some of which may be tapered over time.

In the case of intraocular procedures such as cataract surgery, a more intensive medical regimen following surgery is required, including post-operative exams at 24 hours, 1 week, 3 weeks, 2 months, and possibly more based on your pet’s recovery. The 24-hour recheck is included in the cost of surgery, barring additional medications that may be prescribed. These rechecks are necessary to monitor your pet’s healing and ensure the surgery’s success. Intraocular procedures also require many topical and oral medications given several hours apart in the weeks following surgery, along with strict use of an Elizabethan collar to protect the surgery site from damage. Due to the commitment required, we want every owner considering this surgery for their pet to be aware and prepared for the aftercare they will need to provide.

Preparing for Surgery

All surgery patients should receive our Pre-surgical Instructions (PDF) to prepare for their procedure. If your pet is scheduled for surgery and you do not have these instructions, please review them carefully.

Traveling from out of town? Resources for pet-friendly lodging

The majority of our surgeries are performed at our main office in Nashville, with limited procedures performed at our Chattanooga location. Certain procedures, such as cataract surgery, require a 24-hour recheck, so owners traveling from out of town may need to stay overnight.  We have listed some pet friendly hotels below.

Nashville office pet friendly lodging:

Chattanooga office pet friendly lodging:

Have you had a good experience with a pet-friendly hotel near our office? Please let us know! Send an email with your recommendations to with “Hotels” in the subject line and we will pass that information along to our other clients.


Diligent aftercare by owners is an important component of successful intraocular surgery. Many of the procedures we perform at VOS require intensive medication regimens immediately following surgery. This can include eye drops and ointments every 2 hours for a week or more for procedures such as cataract surgery, in addition to multiple oral medications to control pain and infection. Your pet will also need to wear a rigid, plastic Elizabethan Collar (the “cone”) for several weeks to prevent them from damaging the surgery site.

What to Expect Following Surgery

When you arrive, your technician will go over in detail how the procedure went, what to expect during the recovery process, and your medication schedule. Once your pet is home, place her in a quiet, dark area. She may sleep for several hours. You may notice occasional whining, whimpering, and restlessness from confusion as the anesthetic medications wear off, but this does not necessarily indicate pain. However, be sure your pet receives her oral pain medications that night as directed. It’s easier to control pain before they feel it, so don’t wait. This will also allow you to more easily administer her other medications.

Food and Water
You may offer your pet small amounts of water later on that night, and if she seems alert, you may try small amounts of food, totalling about half the amount you would normally provide. Your pet can have normal amounts of food and water the next day. If your pet is diabetic and doesn’t want to eat, do not give insulin. Some pets may have a decreased appetite the night after surgery, but they should feel more normal by the next day. Since your pet has been fasted and under anesthesia, don’t be alarmed if they do not have a bowel movement the night of or the morning following surgery.

Please be sure you understand your pet’s medication schedule, and call us if you have any questions. We also have a comprehensive Medication Guide with tips for administering medications, how to refill your prescriptions, printable schedules to help you know where and when to give drops, and other information. Let us know if you are having any trouble giving medications to your pet, especially those that control pain.

Elizabethan Collar
To prevent your pet from rubbing or damaging the surgery site, she will be fitted with a protective Elizabethan collar (E-Collar). Please keep this on at all times! Your pet should be able to eat, drink, and sleep with the collar on, but if you feel she is having difficulty, check out our guide below or call our office for suggestions.
Elizabethan Collar Guide (PDF) answers common questions and concerns when dealing with E-Collars.

The site of your pet’s procedure (as well as the spot on their leg where the catheter is placed) will be shaved for surgery.

When is it an Emergency?

Please feel free to call us with ANY questions or concerns you have, but especially in the event of vision loss or other abnormalities such as excessive redness, cloudiness, discharge, or squinting. Except for vision loss, some of these symptoms may be present to a mild degree following certain procedures, but don’t wait for the next appointment to address these situations.

For cataract surgery patients, we have a comprehensive Cataract Aftercare Guide (PDF) explaining what owners will need to watch for during their pet’s recovery.

The Farm at Natchez Trace

For owners who may not be available to provide the appropriate aftercare for their pets following surgery, The Farm at Natchez Trace is a boarding facility in Franklin, TN, that can provide comprehensive care for dogs and cats, including picking up your pet from our clinic, providing 24/7 care and administration of medications as prescribed by our ophthalmologists, and a warm and attentive staff and environment. Ask our doctors if you would be interested in this option, and we would be glad to refer you.

Questions or Concerns?

Please contact us! We are here to help in any way we can. Feel free to call us at (615) 690-9399 or toll free (877) 551-9399 or send and email to