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1 March 2010 The Ethics of Exotic Animal Analgesia
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Although veterinary students these days are routinely taught about pain management in dogs and cats, they receive little instruction regarding pain management in exotic animal species, and, although much research has been performed to understand how dogs and cats feel pain, very limited studies exist on pain perception in commonly kept exotic animal species, including birds and reptiles. In addition to the lack of scientific information regarding pain perception in exotic species, very little discussion exists about the ethical issues that surround pain management in these species. Although dog and cat owners are generally more than happy to spend money on analgesics to help ensure that their beloved pets are not uncomfortable, many exotic pet owners may be less sensitive to indications of pain in their pets and more conscious of cost when it comes to spending additional funds on medication. It is up to us, as veterinarians and veterinary technicians, to educate exotic pet owners about their pets' need for pain relief in certain circumstances. It is also up to us to make each other aware of the necessity for pain management in all exotic species. As a result, I have invited 6 veterinarians from different states across the United States to share their experiences regarding the ethics of pain management in exotic pets. The participants are Michael A. Dutton, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian), Dipl ABVP (Canine/Feline), Exotic and Bird Clinic of New Hampshire, Weare, NH, USA; Peter Helmer, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian), North Bay Animal and Bird Hospital, Tampa, FL, USA; Christine Kolmstetter, DVM, Cheyenne West Animal Hospital, Las Vegas, NV, USA; Frank Lavac, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian), VCA Wilshire Animal Hospital, Santa Monica, CA, USA; Christina Mackensen, DVM, Animal Hospital of Warwick, Jamison, PA, USA; and Connie Orcutt, DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian), Dipl ABVP (Exotic Companion Mammal), Angell Animal Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA. I hope that hearing their experiences will prompt all of us to be more attuned to both the need for pain control in exotic animals and the ethical treatment of these animals in general.

Laurie Hess "The Ethics of Exotic Animal Analgesia," Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery 24(1), 72-76, (1 March 2010).
Published: 1 March 2010

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