Analgesic and anaesthetic drugs in small mammals

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Despite a marked increase in the number of pet rabbits and other small mammals kept in the UK, there are still significant challenges when anaesthetising this group of patients. They often present with advanced disease and veterinary personnel are generally less familiar with their normal behaviour and physiology. In addition, their small size and relative lack of licenced drugs further limits our ability to provide the care we strive to deliver. This session examines best practice when anaesthetising a range of small mammals based on first principles, rather than trying to offer a ‘recipe book’ approach. In addition to illness, signs of pain are also hidden until disease is advanced. Careful and prolonged observation of patients will be required to detect pain, as even subtle changes in behaviour may be significant and analgesics should be used for any potentially painful procedure or disease condition, even if no obvious signs of pain are apparent. There is an increasing evidence base regarding the benefits of analgesia and pain scoring systems. These aspects are covered together with pharmacological treatment of pain and the holistic management of patients who may be experiencing pain.

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