October 15, 2019

Zoo Vet Writes First Ever Zoo Mammal Formulary Book

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The Zoo and Wild Mammal Formulary, written by Dr. Alicia Hahn, the Associate veterinarian at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, is the first reference book for Zoo mammal medication dosing on the market.

In recent years, books and scientific papers detailing antibiotics, pain medications and anesthesia dosages have become readily available for animals like dogs and cats, Guinea pigs, farm animals, reptiles, and birds. However, for the veterinary care of larger wild mammals, like lions, the information is scarce and difficult to find.

Many Zoo veterinarians spend hours trying to find a dose for their case, with little data readily available. Alternatively, they may extrapolate a dose from a well-known species. For example, an antibiotic dose used in dogs for wolves or bears, or a dose used in humans for monkeys. While this seems like a logical choice, recent studies indicate that metabolism of drugs can be different in wild versus domestic animals. As such, extrapolating doses may result in too low or too high of a dose or not re-dosing soon enough.

Frustrated by the lack of available information, Dr. Hahn decided to write a book that would assist fellow veterinarians who care for large wild mammals. Dr. Hahn reached out to Wiley Blackwell of Blackwell Publishing and pitched her idea. The publishing company was intrigued and asked Dr. Hahn to submit an outline and sample chapter. Wiley Blackwell then sent this out to several zoo veterinarians to get their opinion on whether this would be useful for the industry. The other veterinarians felt this would be a great resource and could save hours of individual research. The veterinarians suggested tips on how to make the book more user friendly.

With the go ahead from the publishing company, Dr. Hahn eagerly began her research. She weeded through massive amounts of information from peer reviewed articles, conference abstracts, and reference books. She also reached out to fellow Zoo veterinarians to have them assist in editing each chapter for accuracy and validity, and providing previously unpublished doses that have been used with success in a number of species.

Over the span of eight months, Dr. Hahn compiled this information into 28 chapters. Each chapter represents a different taxonomic group such as primates, elephants, hippos, etc. and includes a chart of average weights for the different species and recommended drug dosages for antibiotics, pain medications, anesthesia, deworming and other commonly used medications.

The Zoo and Wild Mammal Formulary will be available starting August 12, but pre-ordering is available online now through Amazon and Wiley-Blackwell sites. This book will be updated every 3 years or so as new information comes out from ongoing research in Zoo medicine. With her book securely in the hands of the publisher, Dr. Hahn is already exploring new ideas to further the veterinary care of Zoo animals.