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Emergency Care of Amphibians

By Brent R. Whitaker, MS, DVM, Vice President of Biological Programs, National Aquarium

Initial emergency support includes providing fluid therapy, oxygen, and an environment of proper temperature and humidity. Placing the animal in a shallow bowl of isotonic or slightly hypotonic fluid enables transdermal uptake. Equal parts 2.5% dextrose in 0.45% sodium chloride and lactated Ringer’s solution is effective. Coelomic, IV, or interosseus fluids may be given by bolus to larger animals at 5–10 mL/kg. In the absence of known exposure to an organophosphate, seizuring animals should be treated for hypocalcemia (calcium gluconate, 100 mg/kg, IM, IV, SC, or intracoelomic, once or twice daily), organophosphate toxicity (atropine, 0.1 mg/kg, SC or IM as needed), and thiamine deficiency (vitamin B1 25–100 mg/kg, IM or intracoelomic as needed). If sepsis is suspected, antibiotic administration (eg, enrofloxacin 5–10 mg/kg/day, PO, SC, IM, or intracoelomic) should be initiated. Treatment for traumatic injuries is directed at minimizing blood loss, providing fluid therapy and respiratory support (doxapram 5 mg/kg, IM or IV as needed), and reducing pain (buprenorphine 0.02 mg/kg, IM, SC, or PO, or meloxicam 0.2 mg/kg), followed by corrective therapy.