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Perioperative stress response in dogs undergoing elective surgery: variations in behavioural, neuroendocrine, immune and acute phase responses

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The aim of this trial was to describe the behavioural, neuroendocrine, immune and acute phase stress responses in dogs undergoing elective surgery in normal, clinical practice conditions. Sixteen dogs were submitted to elective orchiectomy or ovariohysterectomy using a standardised surgical protocol. Each animal was confined to the Intensive Care Unit during pre- and post-surgery and perioperative behavioural, neuroendocrine, immune and acute phase responses were studied. Behavioural categories, cortisol, prolactin, white blood cell, C-reactive protein and haptoglobin variation were evaluated. Values at different times were compared with basal values shown by the dog in its usual environment. Communicative and explorative behaviours showed high occurrence pre-surgery and were inhibited post-surgery. Decreases in post-surgery activity, interactive behaviours and changes in waking/sleeping patterns were observed. The most sensitive marker of psychological stress, cortisol, in comparison with basal values, showed a significant increase both during pre- and post-surgery confinement in the ICU cage. Prolactin values were characterised by a significant decrease early into the post-surgery period. The immune response was characterised by long-term neutrophilia and monocytosis, but by short-term lymphopaenia and eosinopaenia, limited to the early post-operative period. With regard to the acute phase response, both C-reactive protein and haptoglobin showed a long-term increase, post-surgery. Changes in behavioural, haematological and biochemical markers showed that perioperative stress represents a major challenge to dog welfare.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-08-01

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