Letters to the Editor

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Reptiles and amphibians as pets

Although I would never denigrate the work being done by members of the Association of Reptilian and Amphibian Veterinarians, I do not think that reptiles and amphibians should be encouraged as pets.1 When I was a child, I too caught snakes, toads, and frogs and kept them for a time. They fascinated me and I learned valuable lessons from them. But looking back, I'm not sure it was a mutually beneficial relationship, and it seems likely that some of those creatures suffered unintentionally in my hands.

Even though it might seem better if the only reptiles and amphibians kept as pets were those that had been bred in captivity, represent species abundant in the wild, and represent species that are known to do well as pets, they are still wild animals. As much as I appreciate the good intentions of reptile and amphibian owners, I cannot see keeping wild animals as pets and believe that wild animals and birds should remain wild.

I would encourage those people with a passion for these creatures to put their energies into conserving their natural habitats and stopping illegal trade.

Janiene Licciardi, dvm

Bellingham, Wash

1. Burns K. Befriending reptiles and amphibians: veterinarians strive to improve care for distinctive pets. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2014; 245: 152157.

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Use of trazodone to facilitate postsurgical confinement in dogs

It was with great concern that I read the recent study by Gruen et al1 regarding the use of trazodone to facilitate postsurgical confinement of dogs. The authors conclude that trazodone “may be used to facilitate confinement and enhance behavioral calmness of dogs during the critical recovery period following orthopedic surgery.”1 As a rehabilitation therapist, however, I would argue that there are substantial benefits of not only physiotherapy but also controlled exercise and an early return to function following orthopedic surgery in dogs. Evidence for this position can be found in several articles discussing the benefits of postoperative physiotherapy and the problems associated with lack of exercise. A good example is the study by Monk et al,2 which compared results for 4 dogs that underwent a physiotherapy program 3 times/wk after undergoing tibial plateau leveling osteotomy with results for 4 dogs that underwent a postsurgical home-exercise walking program. In that study, dogs in the physiotherapy group had a significantly greater thigh circumference 6 weeks after surgery and greater flexion and extension ranges of motion 3 and 6 weeks after surgery than did dogs in the home-exercise group.

In providing a justification for their study, Gruen et al1 state, “Failure to comply with activity restriction may lead to protracted recovery or even surgical treatment failure,” and cite a report3 on long bone fractures following external skeletal fixation in dogs and cats. In that report,3 however, there were additional complicating factors besides owner compliance, including multiple injuries, revision surgery, and the presence of empty pin holes. In addition, only 4 dogs were included, 2 of which had severe orthopedic injuries, including the possibility of osteomyelitis, and 1 of which was a toy breed dog that was allowed by the owner to jump off the furniture. In 3 of the 4 dogs, fractures occurred long after the approximate 4-week trazodone treatment period used by Gruen et al1 in their study.

Michael C. Petty, dvm

Arbor Pointe Veterinary Hospital and Animal Pain Center Canton, Mich

  • 1. Gruen ME, Roe SC, Griffith E, et al. Use of trazodone to facilitate postsurgical confinement in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2014; 245: 296301.

  • 2. Monk ML, Preston CA, McGowan CM. Effects of early intensive postoperative physiotherapy on limb function after tibial plateau leveling osteotomy in dogs with deficiency of the cranial cruciate ligament. Am J Vet Res 2006; 67: 529536.

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  • 3. Knudsen CS, Arthurs GI, Hayes GM, et al. Long bone fracture as a complication following external skeletal fixation: 11 cases. J Small Anim Pract 2012; 53: 687692.

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The authors respond:

We thank Dr. Petty for his comments regarding our article and his emphasis on the importance of rehabilitation following orthopedic surgery. We agree that a professional rehabilitation therapy program1 can support the goal of optimal treatment success by providing opportunities for controlled activity in a safe and closely monitored environment. For many patients, this kind of controlled exercise program maximizes physical recovery and minimizes the negative behavioral impacts of prolonged confinement. In our hospital, we recommend and prescribe rehabilitation therapy during the postoperative period, through our Rehabilitation and Mobility Service or in the patient's home. We find that trazodone, which has behavioral calming effects but does not typically induce ataxia or interfere with the patient's ability to understand and follow commands, can be used concurrently with a successful rehabilitation program.

In addition, during the postoperative period, trazodone may help reduce the incidence of uncontrolled impulsive activities, such as exuberant greeting, which may overload the surgical site. For dogs left confined and unsupervised for many hours at a time, trazodone may enhance behavioral calming and decrease anxiety. Thus, for many dogs, the use of trazodone may improve patient well-being and surgical outcome.

Simon C. Roe, bvsc, phd

Barbara L. Sherman, phd, dvm

Margaret E. Gruen, dvm, mvph

Alexandra Hamilton, bs

Department of Clinical Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC

Emily Griffith, phd

Department of Statistics College of Agriculture and Life Sciences North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC

1. Millis DL & Levine D. Canine rehabilitation and physical therapy. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier, 2014.

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