Understanding Anesthesia Sensitivity in Dogs

Dogs that are said to be prone to anesthesia sensitivity have a difficult time tolerating anesthetics for one reason or another. Anesthetics are drugs that are given to pets prior to complicated medical procedures or surgery. There are several factors that can contribute to canine anesthesia sensitivity, and we will examine them below.

Understanding Anesthesia Sensitivity in Dogs

Small Dogs and Thin Breeds

Small dogs, especially toy-sized breeds, require much less anesthetic per pound of their body weight than larger pets. For this reason, veterinary anesthetists must take extra care when administering anesthesia to them. This is also true for breeds that are naturally thin such as Greyhounds, Salukis and Whippets.

Due to the low percentage of body fat in small and thin breeds, they are also at greater risk of developing hypothermia during dog anesthesia. Because of this, it is essential that veterinary personnel utilize proper warming methods during and after medical and surgical procedures that involve anesthesia administration.

Brachycephalic Dog Breeds

Brachycephalic breeds are those dogs that have a short nose such as Bulldogs, Pekingese, Pugs, French Bulldogs, Shih Tzu and Brussels Griffons. All of these breeds are known to suffer from a condition called brachycephalic airway syndrome, which makes it difficult for them to draw air into their lungs properly.

Because of this, during canine anesthesia, the upper airways of brachycephalic breeds tend to narrow even more. If this occurs, their air supply could be cut off. As such, whenever these breeds are undergoing surgery or medical procedures requiring anesthesia for dogs, they must be properly intubated all throughout the procedure.

Breeds With Genetic Abnormalities

Some breeds exhibit a sensitivity to dog anesthesia due to various genetic abnormalities. For example, sighthound breeds (namely Greyhounds, Whippets, Salukis and Italian Greyhounds) have a genetic makeup and unique metabolism that makes them metabolize anesthetic drugs (particularly Thiobarbiturates) much slower than other breeds.

Additionally, a number of herding dogs are prone to a genetic mutation in a gene that is known as the MDR1 gene. This type of mutation can cause anesthetic drugs (namely opioids and acepromazine) to accumulate in the brain. Commonly affected dogs include Border Collies, Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs and Australian Shepherds.

Dogs With Heart Conditions

Breeds that are genetically predisposed to or have heart conditions can also exhibit anesthesia sensitivity. These types of breeds must be carefully evaluated for heart diseases prior to administering anesthetic drugs to avoid severe complications during surgical or medical procedures. Breeds commonly seen in this category are as follows:

These are the main factors that can contribute to anesthesia sensitivity in dogs. However, it is essential to note that there are always risks for any breeds whenever anesthesia is necessary. Fortunately, due to careful screening processes of patients prior to surgery and other medical procedures, these risks are most often significantly reduced.

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