Anesthesia in rodents and rabbits

There are different ways to house a rodent such as guinea pigs or rabbits anesthetize. Some are very sure, others unfortunately not really. Thank goodness a lot has happened in this area over the past few decades, so today the risk of an anesthetic incident may be as low as with dogs and cats. Here you will find everything about the right anesthetic for rodents and rabbits.

A little journey at the beginning

Barely 50 years ago, it was completely absurd to anesthetize a small pet like a rabbit, a hamster or even a rat to operate on it… after all, they were considered vermin.
When small pets have found their way into the apartments and thus into the hearts of their owners, of course to the desire to give them a long life. Operations such as castration or removal of the tumor have been attempted, but unfortunately often ended in this due to inadequate anesthesia protocols and Death of the patient (sometimes more than 50%).

The main problem with previous anesthesia of small pets was the rapid cooling of patients – they did not wake up after successful surgery and died of hypothermia.
The reason for this, as we know today, was the assumption that successful anesthesia protocols, including drug dosages, could simply be calculated from the dogs or cats down to the weight of the small pets.
However, it was only later discovered that they are much more sensitive to temperature. If you read information about anesthetic incidents in rodents in forums, you can assume that the absolute lion’s share is due to this outdated form.

inhalation anesthesia

After the previous injection anesthesia (often with a very inexpensive xylazine-ketamine mixture) with side effect rate was deemed unsuitable, an attempt was made at the end of the 20th century with the inhalation anesthesia. Animal patients are anesthetized with an anesthetic gas (usually isoflurane, formerly halothane) over oxygen as the carrier substance. They were either placed in gassed Plexiglas containers, equipped with a connected respiratory mask or even a special rabbit tracheal tube.
With this improved form, there is less cooling and an accelerated recovery phase, which also reduces the risk. Unfortunately, the depth of anesthesia is difficult to assess and furthermore the two gases do not guarantee adequate pain relief. Thus, in the case of surgical interventions, a corresponding supplement pain management essential!

Fully antagonizable anesthesia

By far the safest form of anesthesia in rodents and rabbits today is total anesthesia (TAA). Also called triple anesthesia for short… because the patient is mixed with three different active ingredients and injected intramuscularly, which reliably achieves the desired effect Loss of consciousness, elimination of pain and muscle relaxation carry out.

With the VAA, there is hardly any cooling and, in addition, it can also be dosed very precisely (even in patients weighing less than 100 grams) – so nothing stands in the way of a smooth procedure.
This triple anesthesia is on, also off three active ingredients existing antidote after the procedure (antagonize) completely – under normal circumstances, the patient is already 5-10 minutes after the injection and begins to mumble.
But of course, this highly safe form also has a small “disadvantage” – the somewhat more expensive drug required incurs a small surcharge for an AAV in contrast to the outdated xylazine-ketamine anesthesia.

Points to consider before anesthetizing rodents and rabbits

Unlike anesthesia in dogs and cats, it should be noted that the digestive tract wants to be continuously occupied by rabbits and rodents and patients generally do not vomit.
Therefore, these patients, as before, are ahead of schedule Procedure for never staying sober.
For all procedures on the “underside” of the patient, including breast tumor surgeries and castrations, for safety reasons the stable should be lined with newspaper or paper towels instead of the usual bedding up to 10 days after surgery. ‘t look nice but prevents wound infections thanks to litter in surgical wounds.

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