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Dublin: 13 °C Monday 14 October, 2019
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'Very concerning': Pet surgeries may be postponed due to shortage of anaesthetic drug

About 50,000 pet surgeries happen in Ireland each year.

Image: Shutterstock/Blanscape

PET OWNERS HAVE been warned that animal surgeries may be postponed as there is a shortage of an anaesthetic drug used for cats and dogs.

Isoflurane is the main drug used for the anesthesia of pets when undergoing surgery and its shortage could potentially limit the availability of surgery options for pets in the coming months.

The shortage of supply originated from a mechanical issue with manufacturing plant Zoetis, a leading supplier of isoflurane. The shortage, which affects both Ireland and the UK, is expected to last until March 2019.

This shortage has resulted in other suppliers’ stock of isoflurane being depleted or running out entirely.

Veterinary practices with anaesthesia facilities may be able to offer an alternative anaesthesia protocol during this period, but some surgeries could be postponed. 

There are more than one million pets and 700 veterinary practices in Ireland, and it is estimated that approximately 50,000 pet surgeries happen each year.

Surgeries postponed 

Charles Cosgrave of Village Vets said the shortage is “very concerning due to its potential impact on animal welfare and pets who require urgent surgery”.

However he added that the issue is temporary and said vets have identified alternative anaesthesia drugs “that will suffice short-term”. 

“Even if your veterinary practice completely runs out of veterinary isoflurane, there should be other options available so procedures can still go ahead.

If pet owners are at all concerned, talk to your vet – most of us are very happy to talk about our anaesthetic protocols if clients are concerned.

“If you are asked to postpone your pets surgery, it will be because vets are trying to save the supplies for the patients who need them in an emergency,” he said.

In a statement, Zoetis said it is “acutely aware of the impact this situation may have on practices and the amount of concern it is causing our customers and the wider veterinary market”.

A spokesperson said the company is “working across its entire organisation and with stakeholders” to resolve the issue.

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Órla Ryan

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