Because small mammals are prey species, they do not take to intensive conditions of surgery and hospitalisation very readily. Those that are handled very frequently by their owners are more bonded with humans and better surgical subjects as a result. Rodents and rabbits are particularly susceptible to the surgical complications of dehydration (blood and fluid loss), core temperature depression, hypovolaemic shock, ileus and renal and respiratory depression.
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Due to their size and anatomy, cattle are not very good candidates for general anaesthesia meaning that many procedures performed use local techniques. Most surgeries performed on these patients can be done standing with a small amount of sedation and regional and local nerve blocks. Local techniques are also used in cattle for procedures such as castration and dehorning. General anaesthesia is rarely carried out in these species.
Camelids are becoming more common in general practice and so an understanding of anaesthesia techniques is becoming more important. The same techniques used in other species can be adapted and used in camelids including both local and general anaesthesia.
As in any animal, anaesthesia in a horse carries a risk, although it is much higher than that of other domestic species. It is therefore important to try and minimise these risks as much as possible when performing any procedure. Problems can be encountered at any stage of the anaesthetic and so each stage shall be considered separately here.
Reptiles are becoming more popular pets and so it is becoming increasingly important to understand handling and treatment for these species. They pose a number of different issues compared to that of other domestic species, for example, some may be more dangerous to handle, and so careful selection of agents is required with the ideal providing muscle relaxation, analgesia, easy control and is both safe for personnel as well as the patient. There are also variations in anatomy compared to that of other domestic species. These include the simple sac like structure to lizard and snake lungs.