At just 6-weeks-old, a puppy named Ethan had an infected bite wound near his armpit that required surgery.
According a press release, Ethan was nipped by another dog in his litter and weighed less than a pound when he was brought in to the ASPCA Animal Hospital in New York City by his owner. Dr. Mary St. Martin evaluated the puppy's injury.
Because of his young age and small stature, St. Martin knew Ethan would need a very specific dosage of neonate anesthesia (specifically used for young animals) and a pain management plan for his procedure.
She explains to petMD that neonate anesthesia can provide a challenge for a number of reasons. In puppies, "the nerves to their respiratory and cardiovascular systems are not completely developed until they are a few weeks old" and, because of their physiology, these young animals "have larger metabolic oxygen requirements and are very susceptible to hypoxemia (low oxygen level in the blood)."
In addition to the breathing issues that neonates face under anesthesia, St. Martin explains that it can take close to a month for their livers and kidneys to mature, which impacts how they "metabolize drugs adequately." They also have "lower blood protein levels than adults and this influences how drugs affect them." That's especially notable when you consider that, as St. Martin notes, they are "able to feel pain from birth."
But, thankfully, despite all the risks posed in putting Ethan under anesthesia at such a young age, the strong-willed puppy pulled through the surgery. Under the neonate anesthesia for just 20 minutes, the mighty pup's procedure went very well, which St. Martin credits to the efforts of the ASPCA team. "Ethan was discharged with antibiotics and pain medication," she tells petMD. " I saw him for a re-check exam a few weeks after his procedure and he looked great."
St. Martin tells us that Ethan was a "great patient" and as Ethan's owner put it to the ASPCA, "I knew he was tiny but I also knew he was strong."
Image via Anita Kelso Edson/ASPCA