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Questions for Dr. Shawn - Spaying

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"Dear Dr. Shawn:
"My dog is scheduled to be spayed in a few weeks. I am concerned about the anesthesia and any pain she might feel. I know the surgery is necessary but have heard bad things from some of my friends whose pets had problems when they were spayed. Do you have any holistic approaches to spaying?"

"In the spaying procedure, called an ovariohysterectomy, the ovaries and uterus are removed, preventing future pregnancies and infections and cancers of the reproductive organs. When done before the first heat cycle, which usually occurs between 6 and 12 months of age, spaying almost totally eliminates the chance of your dog developing breast cancer as well. This is a great example of how pet owners can actually prevent several of the many cancers in pets.

I appreciate your concern about anesthesia and pain control. The holistic approach to anesthesia and pain control avoids the "one size fits all" approach I commonly see, where every pet is given the same anesthetics and pain medications regardless of individual needs and differences. The most holistic approach accepts the fact that your dog is an individual pet, and the anesthetic and pain control regimen selected takes this into account. The anesthetic and pain-killing drugs chosen for your pet may not be the best for the next patient presented for the spaying operation.

The most holistic anesthetic provides relaxation and unconsciousness during the surgery, and allows for a quick recovery. Prolonged recoveries are rarely needed for spaying procedures and predispose the pets to low body temperature and other metabolic problems Most horror stories of pets dying under anesthesia or being "doped up" for hours or days after surgery involve anesthetics such as long acting intramuscular injections of ketamine and xylazine that depress the pet for prolonged periods of time.

In my practice, I use intravenous butorphanol, buprenorphine, or xylazine to quickly sedate the pet, and then rely on gas anesthesia (isoflurane) to allow the pet quick recovery. The pet is discharged in the afternoon the day of the surgery, and most act totally normal as if they never had surgery! Pain is controlled by butorphanol or buprenorphine during the surgery and then butorphanol or a non-steroidal post operatively for a few days. This holistic approach is well appreciated by owners like yourself. Postoperative use of homeopathics (such as arnica or hypericum) can also be used. Feeding a natural diet and using nutritional supplements to support the liver as it detoxifies the drugs used during the surgery (such as milk thistle) round out the holistic approach. The best advice I can give you is to discuss these issues with your doctor before the surgery."




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