Anaesthesia in Northern Breeds

By Karyn Colman B.Vet.Med. M.R.C.V.S.

I make the following recommendations to those who ask:

Give the vet the exact weight of the dog or ensure he/she weighs the dog prior to administering any pre-med. IMO the commonest cause of problems with anaesthesia in Northern breeds is over-estimation of the weight of the dog because of the dense coat and because some vets don't appreciate that these dogs are athletes - i.e. have minimal fat reserves. And in some cases with Malamutes because they had problems handling the dog so gave it an over?generous dose of pre-med. Giving too much pre-med will also cause slow recovery rates & a very wobbly, groggy dog, the pre-med takes longer to be removed from the system than *any* of the commonly used anaesthetics.

Ask specifically for the ultra-short acting injectable anaesthetic agents such as those frequently used in greyhounds, Salukis, Afghans, etc., these are the best type for athletic dogs with minimal fat covering. The generic names for two of these are - PROPOFOL & METHOHEXITONE. Athletic dogs often require less anaesthetic agent per lb body weight than couch-potatoes and seem to react better to a single, *conservative* 'bolus' 'knock-down' dose followed by rapid intubation & gaseous top-up than to repeated doses of injected anaesthetic. Injectable anaesthetics are generally used for induction of the anaesthesia & then a gaseous agent is used for maintainance. There is little difference between the different types of gaseous anaesthetic as far as recovery times are concerned - most are mainly 'blown off' by re-excretion via the lungs with only very limited metabolism in the body.

Adverse reactions to pre-med & anaesthetics that have been administered correctly & with due care are actually fairly infrequent, and are often an idiosyncratic reaction which cannot be predicted.

It is my strong belief & contention that Northern breeds are no more sensitive to anaesthetics than other athletic type of dog and their risk of injury due to anaesthesia administration is no greater than any other breed of dog, if correctly dosed.

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