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 Anesthesia - Things to consider

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PostSubject: Anesthesia - Things to consider   Thu Dec 10, 2009 11:31 pm

Given recent events in my home, I thought that it might be helpful to bring up the topic of anesthesia use on such small critters. There is an awful lot of talk in the glider community about post-neuter SM, but not much is talked about in terms of effects of anesthesia. So, I will share what I know and welcome you to add your own knowledge.

The anesthesia typically used on sugar gliders is delivered through the respiratory system (they breathe it in) and is also expelled through the respiratory system. This means that it does not have to be metabolized in the blood before they can wake up. They simply exhale it and begin to wake up. Some vets still use anesthesia that has to be metabolized in the blood. This means that it takes longer for them to wake up.

What many don't realize is that just because your sugar glider has woken up does not mean that the anesthesia has been totally expelled from the body. In fact, the effects of anesthesia can take up to 24 hours to wear off, though most eliminate anesthesia within the first hour.

What does this mean? It means that ANY time your glider is anesthesized - even if just for an x-ray or for a tooth examination - they are at risk for severe reactions once waking up. Many gliders attack themselves out of fear after anesthesia - the fear comes from being disoriented and confused. They will begin to bite themselves or tear into the surgical site immediately upon waking up. Disorientation and confusion can linger in a glider for the full 24 hours after coming out of anesthesia. The risk of negative reactions is increased if the glider is also experiencing pain. The combination of pain + disorientation after coming out of anesthesia is a huge catalyst for Self Mutilation!

Also, you should realize that anesthesia can create slight changes in personality if used repeatedly. For those poor gliders that undergo procedure after procedure, you might find that they do very well with the first few, but then begin to have some troubles after many repeated episodes. For example: Jackie went through his first 4 anesthesia episodes without a single problem. However, over time, the anesthesia became too much. Now, EVERY TIME he is anesthesized, he wakes up and immediately begins biting/attacking his back left foot. This happens even if he has not had an invasive procedure (i.e. if he is being x-rayed). Additionally, my sweet Jackie Chan now nips pretty regularly and takes a much more dominate male role in his relationships. These are behaviors he NEVER exhibited prior to multiple anesthesia uses. An example of a slight personality change.

The point I am trying to make here is this: It is VERY important any time you go to the vet and anesthesia is used that you are ready with an e-collar. All gliders react differently. You certainly do not want to be unprepared if your glider is one of the few who begin to SM after a simple x-ray. It DOES HAPPEN! SM, as we are seeing a lot lately, does NOT occur only in males or only after a neuter. It can happen with any glider for a variety of reasons, one of which is the use of anesthesia.

PLEASE HAVE AN E-COLLAR READY any time anesthesia is used. Better safe than sorry.
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