It’s Great to Sedate!


What’s the buzz about sedation? Sedation is a terrific alternative to general anesthesia for procedures that aren’t safe to do in some wide awake patients. Examples include radiographs, sample collection and minor wound care.  Some pets struggle and experience stress when restrained for procedures. General anesthesia has been used occasionally for this purpose; however, sedation may be a much better alternative. What’s the difference between sedation and general anesthesia?

With general anesthesia, a combination of drugs is used at high enough levels to produce complete unconsciousness. This is absolutely required for a potentially painful surgical procedure. The types of drugs and dosages used to produce complete unconsciousness have more potential side effects than drugs used for sedation. An animal under general anesthesia must be monitored by an experienced veterinary anesthetist continuously until recovery.

With sedation, the pet is not completely asleep, and drugs used for sedation are generally safer. Typically, sedation provides relaxation, any reduction of anxiety and any discomfort. Also, much lower dosages can be used. A sedated animal does not require the same kind of continuous monitoring.

How is the Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic using sedation for exotic pets? General anesthesia is still needed for surgeries such as spays, neuters and other more extensive surgeries, but for simply taking radiographs or other minor procedures, it’s just not necessary.

Our clinic has been using sedation in birds and exotic animals for several years, and we’re convinced it is a safe and effective alternative.  In some very special cases, we have offered sedation for pet birds that experience extreme stress during handling for routine physical examination and grooming, and we are very pleased with the results.  For more information, see Dr. Lennox’s lecture notes from the Conference of the Association of Avian Veterinarians.

Contact us if you have any questions on why we say: “It’s Great to Sedate!”