310 – Vet Voice: Breed Specific Anesthesia Fact and Fiction | Pure Dog Talk

Veterinary Voice_ (3)

Breed Specific Anesthesia Fact and Fiction

Dr. Marty Greer brings us information about breed specific anesthesia myths and realities to provide peace of mind and knowledge.

“Everyone has an opinion and an experience,” Greer said. “Anesthesia is controlled death. We have to be respectful and appreciative of the advances in medicine. Your vet wants to know that you have the facts to have an informed conversation.”

Modern anesthesia drugs are “So impactful in the ability to wander through the body surgically in a way we can cure things we never could before. It’s amazing,” Greer said.

Breakthroughs in new drugs and monitoring equipment make today’s anesthetic procedures safer for all dogs. Nonetheless, certain groups of dogs have specific needs.


Sighthounds, athletes that they are, boast only 17% body fat vs 35% body fat in most dogs, Greer said. This means the anesthesia drugs metabolize slower in their systems. Higher red blood cel count and lower albumin also changes the metabolism of drugs in sighthound breeds. The low body fat also means they can become hypothermic more easily.

Toy breeds

Greer noted that veterinary staff work harder at keeping toy dogs warm. They go so far as to use bubble wrap on the dogs legs, to help keep them warmer without a risk of thermal burns. The toy dogs’ small size can also mean a concern about blood sugar dropping during surgery. This means owners are encouraged to not withhold food for as long and staff carefully monitors glucose levels during surgery.


The airways in brachycephalic dogs are constructed differently, Greer said. They often have a narrow airway and a smaller trachea. The goal of the veterinary staff will be to get the  airway under control as soon as possible. Greer also recommends medications to dry up oral secretions so the dogs don’t aspirate.

Giant breeds

Greer’s recommendation for giant breed dogs is to give a lower dose of sedative before anesthesia. By using a combination of drugs, she is able to ensure that each drug can be administered at lower dose.


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