Anesthesia for the Basenji

The Basenji metabolizes drugs differently than most other breeds because it has a higher ratio of muscle to fat. If your Basenji requires surgery, be sure to tell your vet that it MUST receive the same anesthesia protocol as a Greyhound! Do not assume that your vet knows everything – many vets have never seen a Basenji in their practice and may not be aware that thiobarbiturates (such as Pentothal, Biotal and Surital) should never be used to anesthetize a Basenji. If your vet tells you this precaution is not necessary, find another vet.

Acepromazine or Domitor are safe and reliable pre-anesthetic tranquilizers. Diazepam and Ketamine in combination, and Telazole are safe IV anesthetic drugs. Isoflurane is the gas anesthetic of choice because it is exceptionally safe and recovery is rapid; Sevoflurane is also well-tolerated.

It may be tempting to try to cut corners by eliminating pre-anesthesia blood work (a conscientious veterinarian will insist upon it), but pre-op blood analysis is important to ensure there are no underlying issues that could create an emergency situation under anesthesia. The liver and kidneys metabolize and excrete the sedatives; if these organs are compromised, the anesthetic drugs remain in the system longer and sedation can be deeper and longer lasting. It can even prove fatal. Even young animals can have poorly functioning organs and should have blood work done.

Intravenous fluids should be administered during any procedure lasting more than 45 minutes. It is also important that your Basenji be kept warm during the procedure, either on a heated water pad or wrapped in a towel, because hypothermia is an issue in sighthounds when respiration is depressed.

Your Basenji should never be left overnight at the vet’s after being anesthetized for a dental or other non-emergency procedure. The recovery period is a critical time and the dog requires faithful monitoring. Bring him/her home as soon as the vet tells you it’s okay.

Hint: Print this page and save with your Basenji’s important papers.