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Published by Manson Publishing, 2013, 288 pages, Price £54.95, ISBN: 978 1 840761 79 5

This handbook of Small Animal Anaesthesia and Pain Management is from an eminent Veterinary Anaesthetist renowned for his affection for dexmedetomidine. Most chapters are written by the author but there are a handful of co-authors, especially in the latter chapters. Nonetheless the style doesn't change much and this consistency throughout the book is refreshing. In the preface Dr Ko refers to the art of anaesthesia as something we should all aspire to and as this is something I try to instill in my students I couldn't help but read ahead with excitement. I wasn't disappointed as his art–science approach is apparent from beginning to end.

The handbook aims to provide: a quick source of information with supporting illustrations, relating to anaesthetic equipment, drugs, and techniques; a description of anaesthetic drugs, their dosages and various anaesthetic techniques; a resource for making anaesthesia decisions for healthy animals; a resource for making anaesthesia decisions for sick and debilitated animals; and guidance on how to make decisions for specific procedures. Its target audience is veterinary practitioners, veterinary technicians and veterinary students. For these readers this book is everything it promises to be and is the best in the business. The text is concise and thorough and the illustrations complement it perfectly. This could be the entire small animal anaesthesia veterinary undergraduate curriculum in a nutshell and save us all from writing extensive lecture notes.

Despite these attributes the book is not an in-depth reference text that answers the questions posed by deeper thinkers. There are, however, plenty of other books that have that covered nicely and this is not the author's intention. Given the target audience, this book ticks the box perfectly.

The chapters on injectable sedative and anaesthesia–analgesia combinations in dogs and cats, local anaesthetic agents and anaesthetic techniques, and anaesthesia in shelter medicine and high volume/high quality spay and neuter programs were particularly notable. The injectable combinations are based on either dexmedetomidine or medetomidine (though medetomidine isn't available in the author's country (the USA)) and Telazol (or Zoletil) and are referred to as ‘doggie magic’ or ‘kitty magic’. These terms stimulated a little giggle but I guess they are pretty apt. The local anaesthetic chapter was a bit patchy (like some blocks!) but gave an excellent account of the ins and outs of epidurals in dogs and cats. I think this material could give a practitioner the confidence to give these techniques a go. And that can only be a good thing (all going well) for patients undergoing painful procedures. The chapter discussing shelter medicine was also worth including and although it was pretty straightforward there are few summaries of the strategies that are useful in these unusual settings. This chapter makes this book especially valuable for those dedicated to this kind of work.

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I enjoyed reading such a detailed, succinct, comprehensive and concise account of small animal anaesthesia and pain management and would recommend this book to undergraduate veterinary students, veterinary technicians and general veterinary practitioners.

Gabrielle Musk BSc BVMS PhD Cert VA Dipl ECVAA

Gabby is Senior Lecturer Veterinary Anaesthesia at Murdoch University and Veterinary Officer at the University of Western Australia.