BEND, Ore. (AP) — An opioid shortage is forcing clinics to use less potent anesthetics when performing surgeries on pets, veterinarians in central Oregon say.

Byron Maas of the Bend Veterinary Clinic said veterinarians in the region are using new protocols.

"It changes how we get animals under anesthesia and keep them under so they don't feel the pain," he told The Bulletin . "We've had to formulate how we have done anesthesia and keep things safe. We've come up with some different anesthesia protocols."

Attempts have been made to fight an opioid epidemic among humans amid overdose deaths attributed to the addictive drugs, leading to restrictions that are trickling down to veterinary clinics.

Rhonda Ahern of the Bend Spay and Neuter Project said the nonprofit clinic is restricting how many large female dogs are being spayed.

"We are limiting the large female dogs because they take so much," she said. "We would be out and perhaps not be able to do any surgeries."

Liz Pollak at the Bend Equine Medical Center said large animals such as horses aren't affected by the opioid shortage because drugs used for horses are not being restricted. But she treats cats and dogs at the equine clinic's small animal division.

The shortage "seems like it's restricting our ability to practice medicine," she said.

Central Oregon veterinarians said they expect the shortage of sedatives for pets to subside in the next several months.

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Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com