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RE: spaying an iguana

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Posted by: pitdorks at Sun Dec 14 16:43:18 2008  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by pitdorks ]  
   

About 3 years ago, we had to have one of our bearded dragons spayed due to a massive overproduction of eggs (she laid more than 250 in a week). The vet that I see happens to also be at the clinic I work at. We discussed the options, the risks and the probable outcomes. I will tell you that my vet has a decent amount of reptile experience yet he had never done a beardie spay, only iguanas. The outcome - I was lucky. We had a LOT of post-operative care to deal with and a long recovery, yet she did well. Recently our clinic did an emergency spay on an eggbound 12 year old green iguana with renal disease that was discovered on her pre-operative bloodwork. If ever there was a case that we thought wouldn't make it, it was her. For us, it was a VERY hard surgery. The vet had a hard time with her as she was so loaded with eggs that he couldn't see anything else. She also went into cardiac and respiratory arrest on the table halfway through surgery - which is a HUGE risk with any reptile going under anesthesia. We did get her back and he was able to finish the surgery. Her recovery was slow and I spent the majority of the day doing just her postop care. In reality, the clinic will need to assign a tech to the iguana for the entire day and they will do nothing but her care.

Essentially, my thoughts are that if your vet isn't experienced in reptile surgery, you need to find someone that is since the problems we encountered with the iguana spay recently are not abnormal or unusual in any way. ANY surgery opening the coelomic cavity of a reptile is extremely invasive and is very different from opening the abdomen of a dog or cat. We do a fair number of reptile surgeries and they are all difficult, impossible to predict and require totally different care and treatment from mammals. It is one thing for a vet that is starting out in the reptile world to need to gain experience, but cases like this should be sent out to others that have done it and have the vets still learning shadow/assist to learn the ropes. Think of it like a person going to a plastic surgeon for a triple bypass surgery.

One bit of advice that we've found works great however. If you do the surgery, talk with the vet about putting in a temporary feeding tube at the same time. Lots of reptiles will refuse to eat postoperatively for quite a while, which slows the healing process. We have taken to placing pharyngostomy tubes on all of our invasive surgery reptiles so that they can be tube fed, get water and meds without fighting them to do it orally. It is a really easy and inexpensive procedure, and it greatly helps with the healing as you aren't stressing the animal out multiple times a day force feeding, giving water, giving meds etc. There is a food from Oxbow called Critical Care - it is a recovery diet for herbivores. They now make a fine grind formula that goes through the pharyngostomy tubes like a dream and it is an acceptable primary diet while in recovery. We've had great luck with most of our patients back up and eating like normal right around a week postop.

Hope this helps you decide what you feel is the best course of action for her! Good luck if you do the surgery!
Liz


   

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