Surgery FAQ

Hours of operation

The office is staffed continuously from 8 am Monday until 5pm Friday. We are closed on major holidays and weekends. However, we do have staff on call during the weekends and holidays to address your concerns and your pet’s medical needs.

If possible, please call to make your appointments between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm Monday to Friday.

In addition to undergraduate studies and four years of veterinary school, Board Certified Surgeons undergo at least one internship and a surgical residency for an additional four to five years of specialized training in surgery. The American College of Veterinary Surgeons or ACVS is the certifying organization in the United States responsible for assessing a veterinarian’s ability as a surgery specialist. You can check a veterinarian’s ACVS status at  A veterinarian, who uses the term specialist and is not a Diplomate of the ACVS, is not a specialist in surgery.

We prefer that all patients be referred to us by their veterinarian. We greatly appreciate the confidence pet owners have in us by recommending us to friends and family, however, it is our preference to also have the referral from the pet’s primary veterinarian. There are certain instances when we will see patients without a referral and these patients must be pre-approved. Our goal is to treat the surgical problem that the pet was referred for and then to release the pet back to the referring veterinarian.

We are an extension of your veterinarian; however, we do not replace your veterinarian. We do not administer vaccines, provide wellness exams, dispense or prescribe heartworm or flea medications, treat routine ear infections, dispense medications that have been prescribed by your by your regular veterinarian or provide services other than those services resulting from your pet’s referral.

Talk with friends, family, or co-workers to get their recommendations for a general veterinarian. You can also use online ratings and services like Angie’s List to search for a veterinarian you might like for your pet. There is a veterinarian out there to meet everyone’s needs.

Call our office at 813-901-5100 between 8am-5 pm Monday through Friday to make an appointment.

  1. Fast your pet as instructed in the section “General Patient Information”
  2. Please bring any medical records, CDs or X-Ray films, and the completed Outpatient Admission Sheet available on this site for your office visit. You will also need to bring your pet with you to the appointment for their exam.
  3. Please arrive 5 minutes early for you appointment if you have completed the Outpatient Admission Sheet. Please arrive 15 minutes early if you need to complete the form at the office.
  4. Note that we are located on the south side of Paula Drive beside Skate World. The clinic located on the north side of the street (Town N Country Animal Clinic) is a general practice and is not associated with us.

First, you may want to avoid giving off any signals to your pet that indicate a change of routine.  If you are bringing a dog to our hospital that enjoys car rides, behave as you normally would if you were going for a ride. If your dog is afraid of the car, consider bringing a favorite toy to comfort your pet or a small treat to encourage him or her.

Cats can be a challenge to get into a carrier.  We suggest you leave the carrier out a few days before the appointment and put food in the carrier, if necessary,  to help your cat get accustomed to it. A willing assistant may be helpful in getting your cat into the carrier. Sometimes it is easier to lower your cat into a carrier that has been placed on the floor with the open door facing up (vertically) as opposed to a carrier placed horizontally on the floor.  Try to be as calm as possible when approaching your pet to pick him or her up…remember they have senses that can pick up human stress!

If you have been told sedation is required for your pet’s examination, please withhold food for at least eight hours prior to the visit. A small treat in the morning is generally acceptable if it is necessary for medication administration or to coax your pet into the car or carrier.

You may need to spend 45 minutes to several hours at Veterinary Surgical Specialists. If you need to stay for an extended appointment there are restaurants and malls nearby you can visit while your pet is being attended to. The length of time for your appointment will depend upon the tests your pet needs.

After you have checked in for your appointment, a veterinary assistant will take your pet’s body weight and temperature and ask you a few questions about your pet’s history. After seeing the assistant, your Surgeon will examine your pet, review any medical records and x-rays you have brought with you and recommend the best treatment plan for your pet.

We do everything possible to stay on time with our appointments and to make the process as smooth as possible for you. Please bring any medical records, medication, and radiographs from previous veterinary visits. Be prepared with questions and concerns for our surgeons. Our surgeons are happy to explain procedures, answer your questions and address your concerns.

Sometimes we can schedule surgery the next day (and you can leave your pet with us in that instance). There are times when surgery can be scheduled in a few days or a few weeks depending on your pet’s needs, your schedule and our schedule. We try to be as accommodating as possible with surgery scheduling. Dr. Hay generally performs surgery on Monday and Wednesday and  Dr. Thomas generally performs surgery on Tuesday and Thursday. They do occasionally switch their surgery days.

We prefer earlier admission wherever possible. Patients should arrive between 8:00am and 10:00am the morning of surgery. At the time of admission, you will need to finalize authorization for services, provide a contact number where you can be reached, and provide a deposit for surgery (MasterCard, Visa, Money Orders, and cash accepted). If it is necessary, we may be able to accommodate an admission before 8:00am or the night before surgery. Please speak with our receptionist to make arrangements for early admission. Pets should not be fed after midnight the day of surgery, however, a small amount of water is permissible the morning of surgery. If it is necessary to give medication or to coax your pet into the car or carrier, you may also give a small treat the morning of surgery. At admission, please notify a staff member if you have given your pet a treat.  We request personal items, except food, be left at home.

Visitation on the day of surgery is not always possible since pets recovering from surgery often mistake your visit as an indication that they are going home. In addition, it can be painful for your pet to try and get up to greet you. Sometimes it’s difficult for your pet to settle down after your visit. If you must see your pet immediately after surgery, please speak to a staff member during admission for surgery, and arrangements will be made for your visit. The day after surgery, visiting with your pet is generally fine. Please schedule your visit with our reception staff.   Telephone updates pre-operatively and post-operatively are available any time of day or night.

Typically, pets may go home the day after surgery. The doctors and staff evaluate each patient between 8:45 -9:30am. A technician will call you with an update after the evaluation and schedule a discharge appointment if the doctor feels your pet is ready to go home. Discharge times are typically Tuesday through Thursday, 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm and Fridays 10:00 am-3:00 pm. We do ask that you plan for a 30 minute discharge appointment to allow your technician to discuss instructions, medications, and doctor recommendations.

The hospital is staffed continuously from 8am Monday until 5pm Friday. A skilled staff member remains on duty through the night caring for your pet’s needs. Please feel free to call at any time during the night for updates. If your call goes to voicemail, hospitalized patients are being actively cared for. Please call back in 15 to 20 minutes. We are closed on weekends and prefer not to keep a pet in the hospital over the weekend  unless it is essential to the pet’s wellbeing. It may be possible to board a patient over the weekend if there are extenuating circumstances. Boarding, however, is at the discretion of Dr. Hay or Dr. Thomas.

Although the office is closed over the weekend, technicians check voice-mail messages periodically. Support staff is on call to answer questions pertaining to recent surgeries. Dr. Hay and Dr. Thomas share weekend call duties and discuss patient concerns with the on-call technician. Do not hesitate to call and leave a message if you have any questions after your pet has been discharged. Our staff member will return your call and contact the on call surgeon as needed.

 Every surgeon will have their own methods when it comes to managing pets after surgery. We suggest that following the advice of our board certified surgeons is best for your pet if he or she had their surgery done by us. Please feel free to call us if you have any questions regarding your pet’s post-operative care.

Rechecks with your regular veterinarian may be possible, especially if you do not live in the Tampa area. You will need to discuss the follow-up possibilities with Dr. Hay or Dr. Thomas since our surgeons generally prefer to follow their own work until your pet is well on his or her way to healing. If you are planning on taking your pet to your veterinarian or on any road trip for any reason within 8 weeks of a surgery, please call our office first to discuss the trip with your surgeon.

We are very proud to have many thousands of owners and their pets who have become part of the “Veterinary Surgical Specialists family”. However, we suggest that the best care exists with cooperation with your family veterinarian and encourage re-referral for separate problems.

We will give you a written estimate at your initial consultation.  Our reception staff is happy to give estimates over the phone for commonly performed procedures that have standard fees. Our pricing is very competitive for the type of service we provide. We encourage you to price shop, but please be reminded that when comparing prices, make sure to compare apples to apples. We are a 100% surgical center staffed by specialist surgeons with a highly trained staff. Our care is individualized and the overnight care only focuses on surgical patients. We have a proven track record and are widely recognized within central Florida. We are not a low cost and high volume hospital because it is not possible to cut corners in the realm of referral surgery.

Veterinary Surgical Specialists
7512 Paula Drive Tampa, FL 33615
P: (813) 901-5100 F: (813) 901-5102