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Tranquilizers, Sedatives, and Analgesics

By Linda Shell, DVM, DACVIM-Neurology, Professor, Small Animal Internal Medicine, Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine

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Tranquilization reduces anxiety and induces a sense of tranquility without drowsiness. Drug-induced sedation has a more profound effect and produces drowsiness and hypnosis. Analgesia is the reduction of pain, which according to a drug’s effect, may be more pronounced in either the viscera or the musculoskeletal system (see Pain Assessment and Management). Many drugs cannot be categorized by only one pharmacologic effect, ie, as tranquilizers, sedatives, or analgesics. For example, many psychotropic drugs can either tranquilize or sedate according to the dose administered, and many sedatives are also analgesics. Also, drugs classified as tranquilizers, sedatives, and/or analgesics may have additional effects (eg, behavioral modification, antiemesis).

For drugs commonly used in various species for tranquilization, sedation, or analgesia, see Table: Dosage of Tranquilizers and Sedatives without Analgesic Effects and see Table: Dosage of Analgesics. Drugs that have some of these effects but are used mainly for other properties (eg, as antispasmodics, antiemetics, or preanesthetics) are not listed. Single-use doses are emphasized because many situations require only a brief duration of effect, but frequency of administration is also provided for drugs likely to be used for multiple-dose therapy. The dosages listed serve only as a general guideline and apply to the use of each drug alone, not to a combination for anesthesia or neuroleptanalgesia. No reference is made to schedule restrictions, extra-label use, or precautions in the use of these drugs; the product label and referenced texts should be consulted for information on the pharmacology and alternative applications of each drug.

Dosage of Tranquilizers and Sedatives without Analgesic Effects

Drug

Dogs

Cats

Ferrets

Rabbits

Horses

Cattle

Pigs

Benzodiazepines

Diazepam

1 mg/kg, IV or PO

1 mg/kg, IV

2 mg/kg, IM

1–5 mg/kg, IV, IM; 2–10 mg/kg, IM or IP

0.05–0.4 mg/kg, IV

0.5–1.5 mg/kg, IV

0.5–10 mg/kg, IM; 0.5–1.5 mg/kg, IV

Midazolam

0.2–0.4 mg/kg, IV or IM

0.2–0.4 mg/kg, IV or IM

2 mg/kg, IM or IV

Butyrophenone

Azaperone

0.4–0.8 mg/kg, IM

2.2 mg/kg, IM

Phenothiazines

Acepromazine maleate

0.05–0.1 mg/kg, IV, IM, or SC; 0.55–2.2 mg/kg, PO, tid-qid

0.11–0.22 mg/kg, IV, IM, or SC; 1.1–2.2 mg/kg, PO, bid-tid

0.1–0.25 mg/kg, IM or SC

1–5 mg/kg, IM

0.04–0.1 mg/kg/day, IV, IM, SC, or PO

0.05–0.1 mg/kg, IV, IM, or SC

0.1–0.2 mg/kg, IV, IM, or SC

Chlorpromazine hydrochloride

0.55–4.4 mg/kg, IV; 1.1–6.6 mg/kg, IM; 3.2 mg/kg, PO, tid-qid as needed

1–2 mg/kg, IV or IM, bid

3 mg/kg, IV or IM (may produce myositis)

0.5–4 mg/kg, IM

Promazine hydrochloride

2–6 mg/kg, IV, IM, or PO, tid-qid

2–4.4 mg/kg, IV, IM, or PO, tid-qid

0.4–1 mg/kg, IV or IM; 1–2 mg/kg, PO

0.4–1 mg/kg, IV or IM; 1.6–2.8 mg/kg, PO

0.4–1 mg/kg, IV or IM

Triflupromazine hydrochloride

1.1–2.2 mg/kg, IV; 2.2–4.4 mg/kg, IM

4.4–8.8 mg/kg, IM

0.22–0.33 mg/kg, IV or IM (maximum 100 mg/horse/day)

Dosage of Analgesics

Drug

Dogs

Cats

Ferrets

Rabbits

Horses

Cattle

Pigs

Opioid Analgesicsa

Buprenorphine

0.01–0.02 mg/kg, SC, bid

0.005–0.01 mg/kg, SC or IM, bid

0.01–0.03 mg/kg, IV, IM, or SC, bid-tid

0.02–0.05 mg/kg, SC, IM, or IV, bid

0.005–0.02 mg/kg, IM or IV, bid-qid

Butorphanol tartrate

0.2–0.4 mg/kg, IM or SC; 0.55 mg/kg, PO, every 6–12 hr

0.1–0.2 mg/kg, IV; 0.2–0.4 mg/kg, IM or SC, every 4 hr

0.05–0.4 mg/kg, IM, every 4–6 hr

0.1–0.5 mg/kg, IV, every 4 hr

0.05–0.1 mg/kg, IV, IM, or SC

Adult: 20–30 mg, IV, jugular

0.1–0.3 mg/kg, IM

Medetomidine

0.002–0.03 mg/kg, IM, IV, or SC

0.002–0.03 mg/kg, IM, IV, or SC

Meperidine hydrochloride

2–10 mg/kg, IM or SC, every 2 hr

2–5 mg/kg, IM or SC, every 2 hr

2–5 mg/kg, IM or SC, every 2–4 hr

5–10 mg/kg, IM or SC, every 2–3 hr

0.2–0.4 mg/kg, IV; 1–3 mg/kg, IM or SC

500 mg/cow, IV slowly, IM or SC

1–2 mg/kg, IM or IV

Morphine sulfate

0.22–0.88 mg/kg, IM, IV slowly, or SC, every 4–6 hr as needed

0.1 mg/kg, IM or SC, as needed

0.5–5 mg/kg, IM or SC, qid

2–5 mg/kg, SC or IM, every 2–4 hr

0.2 mg/kg, IV; 0.2–0.4 mg/kg, IM

0.2–1 mg/kg, IM, every 4 hr

Nalbuphine

0.5–2 mg/kg, SC, every 4–8 hr

1.5–3 mg/kg, IV, every 3 hr

1–2 mg/kg, IV, every 4 hr

Oxymorphone hydrochloride

0.05–0.1 mg/kg, IV, IM, or SC, every 1–3 hr

0.025–0.05 mg/kg, IV, IM, or SC

0.05–0.2 mg/kg, IV or IM, bid-qid

0.1–0.2 mg/kg, IM, every 2–4 hr

0.02–0.03 mg/kg, IV or IM

0.075 mg/kg, IM

Pentazocine lactate

2–3 mg/kg, IM, every 4 hr; 15 mg/kg, PO, tid

5–10 mg/kg, SC or IM, every 4 hr

10–20 mg/kg, SC or IM, every 4 hr; 5 mg/kg, IV, every 2–4 hr

0.33 mg/kg, IV

2–5 mg/kg, IM, every 4 hr

Nonopioid Sedative Analgesics

Xylazine hydrochloride

0.5–1 mg/kg, IV; 1–2 mg/kg, IM or SC

0.5–1 mg/kg, IV; 1–2 mg/kg, IM or SC

1 mg/kg, IM or SC

0.1–1 mg/kg, IV; 0.5–1 mg/kg, IM or SC

0.05–0.1 mg/kg, IV; 0.1–0.2 mg/kg, IM

2 mg/kg, IM

Detomidine

0.02–0.04 mg/kg, IV or IM

Nonpsychotropic Analgesics

Acetaminophen

15 mg/kg, PO, qid as needed

Contraindicated

Aspirin

10–25 mg/kg, PO, bid

10 mg/kg, PO, every 48 hr

0.5–20 mg/kg, PO, once to three times daily

5–20 mg/kg/day, PO

30–47.5 mg/kg, PO, bid-qid

26 mg/kg, IV; 100–124 mg/kg, PO, bid

10–20 mg/kg, PO, every 4 hr as needed

Carprofen

4 mg/kg/day, IV or SC

4 mg/kg/day, IV or SC

1.5 mg/kg, PO, bid

0.7 mg/kg/day, IV, IM, or SC

0.7 mg/kg/day, IV, IM, or SC

Dipyrone

28 mg/kg, IV, IM, SC, or PO, tid

28 mg/kg, IV, IM, SC, or PO, tid

5–10 g/horse, IV or IM, tid as needed

50 mg/kg, IV, IM, or SC

50 mg/kg, IV, IM, or SC

Flunixin meglumine

1–2 mg/kg/day, PO, IV, or IM, up to 3 days; use of flunixin meglumine in dogs has decreased since the introduction of other NSAIDs with higher therapeutic indexes.

Use of flunixin meglumine in cats has decreased since the introduction of other NSAIDs with higher therapeutic indexes.

0.5–2 mg/kg, SC, once to twice daily

1.1 mg/kg, SC or IM, bid

1–2.2 mg/kg, IV; 2.2 mg/kg/day, IM or PO

1.1–2.2 mg/kg, IM or PO, once to three times daily

1–2 mg/kg/day, IV or IM

Ketoprofen

2 mg/kg/day, SC, IM, or IV, up to 3 days; 1 mg/kg/day, PO, up to 5 days

1 mg/kg/day, SC up to 3 days, or PO up to 5 days

3 mg/kg, IM

2.2 mg/kg/day, IV

2.2 mg/kg, IV; 3 mg/kg/day, IM

Meclofenamic acid

2.2 mg/kg/day, PO

2.2 mg/kg/day, PO

2.2 mg/kg/day, PO

Phenylbutazone

15–22 mg/kg, PO; 15 mg/kg, IV, bid-tid (maximum 0.8 g/dog/day or 44 mg/kg/day); use of phenylbutazone in dogs has decreased since the introduction of other NSAIDs with better safety margins.

15 mg/kg, IV, tid; 10–14 mg/kg, PO, bid; use of phenylbutazone in cats has decreased since the introduction of other NSAIDs with better safety margins.

4.4 mg/kg, PO, bid on day 1; 2.2 mg/kg, PO, bid for 4 days; 2.2 mg/kg, PO, daily or every other day

2–5 mg/kg, IV; 4–8 mg/kg, PO

2–5 mg/kg, IV; 4–8 mg/kg, PO

a Recommended dosages of opiates may produce excitement in cats and horses.

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