Exotic Animal Formulary, , Published by Elsevier, 2012, 4th edition, paperback, 744 pages, Price £38.99, ISBN-13: 978-1437722642
This soft bound book, approximately A5 size, is divided into 13 chapters: invertebrates, fish amphibians, reptiles, birds, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, rodents, rabbits, ferrets, miniature pigs, primates, wildlife. Each chapter is written by single or several authors who are all regarded as experts in their fields. There are 15 appendices including temperature and haematology conversion factors (between US and SI units) and an exotic animal emergency drug table. Each chapter is followed by the reference list. The chapters are clearly displayed at the top of each page and the side of the pages has blocks of colour to indicate where each chapter starts and finishes. This arrangement makes for a very user-friendly experience and quick work of looking up a dose. The chapters are subdivided into the expected sets of tables; antimicrobials, anaesthetics, etc. A few extra tables on the normal haematology and biochemistry values plus some basic husbandry parameters are also very welcome.
The list of chapter titles makes it obvious to most European readers that this book is aimed squarely as an American audience; why else devote entire chapters to sugar gliders and primates? The US-aim of the book is also made clear in the naming of the ‘hedgehog’ chapter which refers to the African hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris) which has become a common exotic pet in the USA and not the European wild hedgehog; readers should note that the medicine and approach to these two species can often be quite different.
The tables of medicines are well laid out and referenced, though the usual challenge of exotic animal medicine means there are several drug dosages listed for each drug giving the clinician little guidance on what is considered the ‘best’ dose so far in the rapidly evolving field of exotic animal medicine. Likewise, as the book clearly aims to be comprehensive, leaving virtually no stone unturned in hunted out drug dosages, there is much use of conference proceedings as well as refereed journals. Whilst this approach gives the clinician a wide choice of drugs and dosages, it may be confusing to the novice and care should be exercised in assuming how much science there is behind some of the suggested doses. It would be helpful to perhaps ‘rank’ the published doses to indicate whether they are from pharmacokinetic studies or just mentioned (by people like me!) in conference proceedings as ‘doses I have used and think are useful’. Lack of hard data seems to still be a common theme in exotic animal medicine though it is wonderful to note the increasing body of ‘real science’ behind such books. The tables here will guide the clinician towards a sensible choice in a wide variety of conditions and in many different species; this is surely an improvement on daring to extrapolate from dog or human doses. This is not a ‘how to treat exotic animal patients’ type of book, nor does it aim to be, and now it is in its fourth edition it is a trusty companion to many vets and vet nurses.
In summary, this book is a ‘must have’ addition to the exotic animal clinician's armoury. It is a handy book to keep in consultation rooms which, with the caveats mentioned above, will often come to the aid of the busy vet in exotic animal practice.