Safer Anesthesia, Better Surgery, Happy Pets
Thanks to the efforts of our forefathers, we can perform better surgery thanks to better monitoring, safer anesthesia and better drugs.
A few decades ago, ensuring that a patient was alive during anesthesia was limited to using your senses: observing gum color, feeling pulses, watching the chest move. More recently, we borrowed from human medicine and started using EKG machines to monitor the heart. Today, most… modern clinics can also measure oxygen levels, blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, and occasionally CO2 levels.
There is no question that the anesthesia drugs we use today are safer than those used a few years ago. By combining several drugs, we can provide multiple benefits to the patient, while using lower dosages of each one. This is called balanced anesthesia. For example, when we do fancy orthopedic surgery on a pet’s knee, we might combine:
As a practicing veterinarian of over twenty years, I’ve been nagged by an obvious and seemingly uanswerable question: why do small dogs live longer than large dogs? For years it’s been widely accepted and understood in the pet world that tiny teacup poodles will live ten or more years longer than a Great Dane. They’re both dogs, share the same basic DNA, eat the same types of foods, and live in similar homes. Yet one breed lives up to three times longer. Why? New research sheds some light on this issue.
In the April issue of the scientific journal “The American Naturalist,” biologists at Germany’s University of Göttingen explored the relationship between size of dog breeds and life expectancy. Researchers analyzed data on over 56,000 dogs representing 74 breeds that visited North American veterinary teaching hospitals. The scientists found that larger dogs appeared to age at a faster rate than smaller dogs. Interestingly, the research concluded that every increase in 4.4 pounds (2 kg) reduces life expectancy by approximately one month.
Okay, so my observations on small dogs living longer than big dogs were correct. But why?
How To Tell If You Have An Awesome Vet
Dear reader, how would you describe your vet? Is (s)he good? excellent? Or awesome?
Let me share with you my top secret to judge how good a family vet is. To clarify, I am a surgeon. Family vets refer difficult surgery patients to me. So I have a somewhat unusual “system” to rate my beloved colleagues.
Cinnamon, a gorgeous 6-year old Golden retriever, had a “hot spot.” His owner took him to his family vet, Dr. C. A hot spot is an area… in the skin that a dog licks so feverishly, that it becomes hairless, raw, red, irritated and painful. It is so annoying that the poor dog becomes obsessed with the hot spot. Licking and chewing only make things worse.
But back to Cinnamon. Instead of simply sending him home with a prescription for cortisone cream and maybe antibiotics, Dr. C went on to perform a complete physical exam. There was nothing else to report… except for a small mass in the thyroid area. She doubled checked, but there was little doubt in her mind: Cinnamon most likely had a thyroid tumor.