Reindeer care for the ruminant practitioner - an overview of anesthesia, surgery and common veterinary procedures
North American Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) arrived by boat in Alaska in the late 19th century. They were shipped from Siberia with the intent to harvest their meat and antlers in the northernmost portions of the continent. Today, hundreds of reindeer farms are located on small farms throughout the United States and Canada. Their use has expanded beyond meat and antler production to seasonal holiday exhibition and zoological displays. These needs have further enhanced the demand for veterinary care of this unique species. Anatomically, the gastrointestinal structure, function and management mimics that of bovids while reproductively, reindeer most resemble and respond best to techniques applied to sheep and goats. As one of the more recent additions to the cervid family, veterinary expertise is limited and continuously revising. There is a scarcity of descriptive literature on some of the most common surgical procedures performed in this species. It has been in the author’s experience that chance encounters with clients willing to perform novel techniques that have allowed our knowledge base to expand most significantly. An overview of anesthesia will be presented along with surgical techniques including castration, Cesarean section, enucleation and finalizing with amputation and management of antler anomalies.