1887

Ferrets: anaesthesia and analgesia

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Abstract

Ferrets exhibit signs of pain in a different way to dogs and cats and for this reason it is frequently reported in the literature that they are stoical and not very sensitive to pain. Practitioners experienced with ferrets find just the opposite: ferrets are extremely sensitive to pain and stress, with the consequence often being haemorrhage and ulceration of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Pain also contributes to anorexia and dehydration that may exacerbate endocrine disorders such as islet cell neoplasia (insulin-producing), renal disease and cardiomyopathy. This chapter examines Analgesia; Local and epidural analgesia and anaesthesia; Sedation and anaesthesia; and Postoperative procedures.

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Figures

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22.1 Signs of pain in the ferret. Ferret exhibiting weight loss, pallor, dull facial expression with glassy look to eyes, hunched abdomen and reluctance to move. This ferret is moribund and emaciated and had been suffering for one month before the owner presented it for euthanasia. The ferret was periodically screaming. This ferret had end-stage adrenal gland disease and would occasionally whimper. This animal had gastrointestinal pain and shows a hunched position.
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22.3 Endoscopic view of a gastric ulcer in a ferret. (Courtesy of Angela Lennox.) Gastric ulceration in a ferret that had undergone adrenal gland surgery 3 weeks previously. The cause of death was haemorrhage from the ulcer.
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22.5 Locations for regional nerve blocks. = the approximate exit of the infraorbital nerve through the infraorbital foramen on the lateral aspect of the face. The zygomatic nerve also exits this foramen. = the mandibular nerve blocking area. It lies on the medial aspect of the mandible and is approached from inside the oral cavity. = the approximate location on the lateral surface of the mandible of the exit of the mental nerve from the mental foramen. = represents the approximate area for the maxillary nerve block. See text for further details.
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22.6 Infraorbital nerve block, showing the location of the infraorbital foramen. The ferret has not yet been intubated, as it is often advantageous to put the blocks in first before intubation, giving the local anaesthetic a few minutes to work before proceeding with dentistry. The site is first swabbed with 2% chlorhexidine rinse.
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22.7 Epidural analgesia. X = wings of ileum, O = dorsal spines of the last lumbar vertebra (usually L6 but in some ferrets it may be L5 or L7) and of the sacral vertebrae. Small lines are the midline and other dorsal prominences of vertebrae. Entry site for the needle is in the midline between the vertebrae at the level of the wings of the ileum. It helps to flex the lumbar/pelvic area to open the vertebral spaces. The head of the ferret is to the left.
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22.10 Use of a Bair Hugger forced-air convective blanket system. The unit is set at an air temperature of 38°C (100°F). Anaesthetized ferret lying on a BairHugger with ECG leads attached.
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22.11 Positioning for intubation. View of the ferret glottis, using a size 0 Miller laryngoscope blade. The mouth is propped open with a ‘Nazzy Ferret Mouth Gag’ (designed by the author and manufactured for Universal Surgical Instruments, Glen Cove, New York).

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