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Excerpt from A LITTLE BULL Spring 2002 issue.

For The Health of Your Mini...

A new column dedicated to addressing the health concerns of the MBTCA membership.

If you have an article that you feel might be pertinent to this column, please submit it to the editor before the ad deadline for the issue in which you would like it to appear


Anesthesia in Minis

As published in the AKC Gazette

The Bull Terrier and Mini Bull Terrier worlds owe a huge debt to researchers of BT behavior problems, notably Dr. Nicholas Dodman and Dr. Alice Moon-Fanelli at Tufts. I am not competent to detail their studies but would like to sketch information gleaned from their talks because it has enormous implications when BTs/MBT's need tranquilizers and anesthesia. The studies have been on BTs but should apply equally to Minis.

A percentage of BTs have behavior problems: seizures, unfocused staring, tail chasing, trancing, fly-biting, extreme mood swings, fear of ordinary objects, obsessive/compulsive behaviors, anxiety disorders, and occasionally rage syndrome. Investigators have theorized genes for epilepsy/obsessive-compulsive disorder. Usually the problem becomes obvious as sex hormones kick in (6 months +). There are many environmental triggers: lack of opportunity to express normal behavior, unfamiliar or unpredictable environment, confinement in a small area, changes in the social group, and physical stress including trauma, surgery, estrus, and whelping. The genes appear to be spread through the Bull Terrier population with many individuals being sub-clinical, or appearing normal.

How does this relate to sedation and anesthesia? Some drugs lower the seizure threshold, causing seizures/behavior problems in (genetically) seizure prone dogs. Ace promazine (a common tranquilizer), ketamine (a frequently used pre-anesthetic), and telazol lower the seizure threshold. Owners need to be aware of the risks of using these drugs and need to discuss anesthesia, preanesthesia, and tranquilization in detail with their vets each time they are needed. Medical information is applicable to all dog breeds about 98 percent of the time. Veterinarians cannot be expected to know the 2 percent of breed specific information as it applies to every dog. Dr. Dodman recommends isofluorane as the anesthetic of choice in BTs. I believe propafol and dormitor have also been used successfully.

I'm aware of many cases of dogs showing problem behaviors after anesthesia but the one that brought the seriousness of the problem home to me was the result of morphiates (and ketamine?) used in a c-section. My apparently normal, personable champion bitch was almost catatonic post surgery, not recognizing people or surroundings. She wouldn't eat or drink. Over several months most of her personality gradually returned. She was, however, left with rodent mania that she had never before shown. She went from door to door in the house wanting to go out. Outside, all her time was spent fence running looking for imaginary rodents until captured and brought back inside. She came through a subsequent c-section where only isofluorane was used without problems.

I implore BT/MBT owners to take responsibility for tranquilizers and anesthesia's administered to their dogs. It isn't possible to predict at this time which animals will be affected. And think very carefully about breeding from dogs (or close relatives of dogs) that show any behavior problems no matter how slightly affected.

Donly Chorn

40058 Hwy 45

Lake Villa, IL 60046