Dog Tips for Veterinarians
Chewie was born with deformed incisors.
Dr. Gleason, through regular checkups has corrected his problem.
This section has been COMPLETELY updated
on our Prairie Dog Pets on CD-ROM.
This material was assembled FOR VETERINARIANS and is offered
by Pat Storer and Lynda Watson
If you are not a veterinarian, ask your veterinarian to help you understand
information he/she feels you should know. Do NOT e-mail us for a 'translation'.
All medical information supplied by :
Jim Gleason, DVM, Levelland, Texas and Phillip Thiac, DVM, La Place, Louisiana
A veterinarian may reproduce a single copy of these tips but must keep them
in their entirety.
Lincomycin- 10 mg/LB
Clindamycin- 2.5 mg/LB
Albon (sulfadimethoxine) - initial dose at 25 mg/LB followed by 12.5 mg/LB
Amoxicillin - 5-10 mg/LB
Neomycin is dosed as per manufacturers label
Prairie dogs are rapidly becoming one of the hottest new pets in the world.
In 1996 alone, thousands of baby prairie dogs will become loved members of
households in the United States. Until now, little information has been available
to the veterinary practitioner who has been presented with a first prairie
dog to treat. We have received many calls from veterinarians who needed more
information on their treatment. As a result, we asked two veterinarians experienced
with prairie dogs to share their knowledge and wisdom. This information is
being offered as suggestions only, by the two veterinarians listed in the
heading. They have found these methods and dosages to be successful for the
many prairie dogs they have treated. This work is not all inclusive of every
prairie dog health concern. It covers problems and treatments encountered
by these veterinarians to date. I am sure you will join us in thanking them
for generously sharing their valuable time and expertise with us all. It goes
without saying that every animal and case is individual and may respond differently.
This is what has worked for these two doctors and is all the information we
have to offer at this time. Veterinarians have our permission to copy and
distribute these suggestions, but please distribute only to other practitioners.
Ambient & Body Temperatures
Black-Tailed prairie dogs are not true hibernators. Prairie dogs exposed to
ambient temperatures of around 55ø F. may enter a state of torpor or semi-hibernation.
Warm with heating pads and apply supportive oxygen therapy. Exposure to lower
temperatures may result in hypothermia. Ailing prairie dogs may also have
a temperature drop and may not respond to treatments until warmed. The prairie
dog's normal temperature is 98 - 99ø F.
We usually roll our prairie dogs in a large towel folded lengthwise to restrain
them for injections (normally in the thigh). This takes a little practice
and must be done quickly, but it works well without having to squeeze any
one area as the towel equalizes pressure on the body. Be sure to roll your
'prairie dog 'tamales' tightly!
A clinician experienced with prairie dogs may choose the following method
of restraint for sedation. Grasp the prairie dog at the BASE of the tail with
one hand. Lift the prairie dog off the table surface, maintaining your hold
at the base of the tail and keeping the head pointed down. Allow the prairie
dog to obtain footing in this position on something such as a cage door or
your pant leg if you are very brave. (Prairie dogs rarely bite in this position
but the possibility is there.) With the other hand, pin down at the back of
the neck preventing the prairie dog from turning its head. Administer anesthetic
IM in the thigh muscle at this point.
In my experience, anesthesia in prairie dogs can be difficult due to variable
response to drugs. The most successful method for us has been induction with
Ketamine at 10 to 20 mg/LB IM with Acepromazine at 0.25 mg/LB IM followed
by maintenance with Metofane (methoxyflurane) via face mask. We make our face
masks with cut down 20cc or 60cc syringe cases.
Telazole at 0.25 cc/LB IM has provided sedation within one minute followed
by anesthesia for 10 to 15 minutes. A dose of 0.4 cc/LB IM likewise gave nearly
instant immobilization but uneventful recovery.
Ketamine and Valium IM: Valium at 0.1-0.2 mg/lb with Ketamine 10-20 mg/lb.
Sedation lasted 15-30 minutes.
Ketamine and Rompun IM: Listed in Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine by M. Fowler
at rate of Ketamine at 100-150 mg/kg and Xylazine at 10-20 mg/kg. Not enough
personal experience with this to evaluate.
Rompun alone has not worked for even mild sedation.
The prairie dog's body temperature drops from about 99 degrees F. at the beginning
of surgery to 95-96ø F. after 20 to 30 minutes, without supplemental heat.
The dosages of anesthetic we have used successfully in prairie dogs are listed
above. As I said, we have not found the combination of Ketamine and Acepromazine
to provide acceptable anesthesia. We have used it only to sedate and follow
with methoxyflurane. This method is suitable for dental procedures, etc.
Castration and Ovariectomy
Obese prairie dogs are poor candidates for castration or ovariectomy. These
animals tend accumulate additional body fat in early fall through winter.
The optimum period for these surgeries is May through the end of October,
preferably in the year of the prairie dog's birth. Obese animals may need
to be placed on a reducing diet prior to surgery. Any visible sutures will
be chewed and removed by the prairie dog immediately after recovery from anesthesia.
Elizabethan collars are not tolerated well. See notes for closures under each
Castration of male prairie dogs is best performed before the accumulation
of excess abdominal fat. A midline excision extending anteriorly from the
penis will expose the testes lateral to the incision and enclosed in the fat.
On some individuals they may be difficult to locate because they are pinkish
clear. Clamping and electrocautery are used to remove each testicle. Ligation
may be used if preferred. Prairie dogs have open inguinal rings so we use
a closed technique. Closure of the abdominal muscles with 4-0 monofilament
nylon in a simple interrupted pattern. We have also used subcuticular patterns
with 5-0 or 6-0 absorbable suture followed by surgical adhesive (Nexaband
S/C). Surgical adhesive was used in an older prairie dog which had chewed
skin sutures out within hours. The adhesive was well tolerated, and healing
Ovariectomy in a prairie dog does not deviate from normal procedures in other
species, and using subcuticular absorbable sutures for closure followed with
surgical adhesive (Nexaband S/C).
Limb fractures may need amputation. Prairie dogs will not tolerate bandages,
casts or splints and will chew them and the affected leg to the point of self-amputation.
Fractures that are set will take 3 to 6 weeks to heal. The prairie dog must
be restrained during this healing period.
Pelvic fractures are common in 3 to 9 month prairie dogs and will usually
self-heal if the animal restrained in a container in which they cannot climb
such as an aquarium or another type of container with smooth sides of restrictive
Symptomatic dietary diarrhea can be the result of overeating or rapid diet
change. The owner must identify and correct the eating habits. Discomfort
may be relieved by orally administering bismuth subsalicylate liquid (Pepto
Bismol) at the rate of 0.2 to .5 ml/LB every 6 to 8 hours.
Coccidia has been treated in prairie dogs with sulfadimethoxine. See dosage
During surgical recovery or after antibiotic therapy, lactobacillus acidophilus
and other beneficial microorganisms should be reintroduced to the gastrointestinal
system to reestablish microflora that may have been affected. (Bene-bac, pet
gels, yogurt, etc.)
Common Respiratory Disorder
Nasal discharge or blockage may be the result of inhalation of foreign materials
into the nasal passages or dental problems. Foreign materials include terry
cloth fragments, lint and dust from cat litter. Volatile oils in cedar bedding
can cause respiratory difficulty and allergies. Non-infectious Rhinitis or
other allergic discharges have responded to oral Orange Triaminicr 2/10 cc/lb.
2-3 times daily.
Captive adult males that have not been castrated and are not mating may develop
an accumulation of urine, secretions and debris in the prepuce. This material
can concentrate and harden causing discomfort, bacterial infection and/or
necrosis of the penis. This is most common during and after the annual reproductive
season - October through January. Symptoms are a purulent discharge at the
preputial orifice and a variable degree of urinary incontinence. Sedation
is necessary to manually remove the preputial debris followed with thorough
cleansing and douche of 10% providine-iodine. Culture and sensitivity testing
may be indicated to determine treatment of bacterial infection if any.
Malocclusion can occur by excessive or malpositioned growth of the incisors
and occasionally the molars. The prairie dog with this problem may eat less
or be unable to eat at all. Indications may be weight loss, moist muzzle and
chest, and partially eaten food. Incorrectly growing incisors can cause trauma
to tissues they contact.
Overgrown teeth should be clipped back to normal length or less if necessary.
Sedation is recommended. Bone forceps or nail trimmers have worked. Dietary
inadequacies may precipitate tooth fractures during clipping. In this case,
a high-speed hand tool with a flat cutting head may prove satisfactory. Mouth
should be held open with a speculum and will provide access to cheek teeth.
Malocclusion from hereditary causes may be impossible to correct. Those teeth
may need to be clipped very short and need regular follow-up care to check
The most frequent origin of hair loss in prairie dogs that have been treated
has been caused by frantic and repeated rubbing on cage wires, unsanitary
cage conditions, poor diet, ectoparasites and dermatophytes. Usual diagnostic
procedures are used.
The prairie dog's diet should be high fiber but not high in fat. Prairie dogs
should not be fed diets or treats like high-fat cookies, peanuts, dog foods,
buttered popcorn and crackers. Gall bladder disease has been diagnosed in
some prairie dogs that have consumed high-fat diets. Grossly overweight prairie
dogs are at health risk and may develop other secondary health problems. However,
healthy prairie dogs often have moderate natural weight gain prior to winter
but return to normal body weight by spring.
Small samples are easily obtained by clipping a claw or toenail. Larger volumes
may be drawn by using lateral or medial saphenous veins. This may prove difficult
Oral support - Medication and Nutrition
Prairie dogs that will take food may be offered palatable oral medication
in a food treat. Administration of liquids can also be accomplished by use
of a stomach tube. A flexible tube inserted through a mouth speculum is recommended
instead of a metal feeding tube which can cause internal damage due to action
of an excited prairie dog. Caution must be exercised to ensure proper placement.
IM barbiturate injection alone is not recommended for prairie dogs. IC seems
to work better but takes longer than the following: Overdose of an inhalant
anesthesia alone or in combination with a subsequent dose of barbiturate is
This section lists medications and anthelmintics we have found to be safe
on our prairie dog patients. Others may work as well.
Topical medications are not recommended due to the prairie dog's propensity
for chewing wounds.
The following oral medications have been used successfully with prairie dogs:
The following injectable medications have been used successfully with prairie
Amiglyde-V (amikacin sulfate)- 12 mg/kg
Gentamicin sulfate - 2.2 mg/kg
Naxcel (ceftiofur sodium) - .25 to 1.0 mg/lb.
The following Anthelmintics have been successfully used with prairie dogs:
Fenbendazol- 5 to 10 mg/kg
Pyrantel pamoate - 3-5 mg/kg
Niclosamide - 100 mg/kg
Pyrethrin powders or sprays
Dichlorvos strips (must be in chew proof container prairie dog cannot
5% Carbaryl powder
Cat or Ferret commercial products have proven to be generally safe for
R-Zu-2-U Animal "Terms"
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