Can Senior Dogs Handle Surgery? 

Senior pets aren’t all that much different from human senior citizens, except that their lifespans are generally shorter. 
While conducting research on the topic of senior dogs and the risks surgery and anesthesia pose, I was shocked to learn what veterinarians hear all too often from pet parents of our elderly, four-legged friends in need of surgery – at his/her age is surgery, or the cost associated with surgery, really worth it?

 Seriously? Just because Fido or Fiona has reached his/her golden years doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the best possible quality of life, does it? 

Dr. Patty Khuly, a veterinarian and contributing writer for addressed the matter of age discrimination in pets in the online article from 2013 titled How Old is Too Old When Treating a Pet found at

 During her years in practice Khuly has many times seen pet owners make life-and-death decisions about their pets based solely on the age of the animal. 

 “‘She’s 10 now, so it makes sense she might get a lump on her spleen, right? Sounds like it’s time to put her down.’ Or how about this one… 

‘He’s only got a couple of years left, so I don’t think I’ll be putting him through that kind of knee surgery,'” writes Khuly. 
In the online Pet Health Network article Anesthesia and Surgery: Four Senior Dog Success Stories Veterinarian and Contributing Writer Phil Zeltzman offers his views on the topic.  
“As I always say, ‘age is not a disease.’ What matters is the overall health of the patient, not the age. There are 14-year-old dogs who are healthier than 8-year-olds. When properly done, the risk of anesthesia is not significantly greater in seniors,” Zeltzman said. 
Veterinarians treat each pet as a patient – regardless of age — and try to minimize the risks of anesthesia. That’s not to say that their age isn’t factored into how surgery is approached or prepared for, he said. 
To read the full story and see the case study of four senior dogs go to
Always consult your pet’s Clifton Park area veterinarian if you have questions or concerns about his or her health.
Skip to content