Merck Manual

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Emergency Care of Amphibians


Brent R. Whitaker

, MS, DVM, University of Maryland, Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology;

Taylor J. Yaw

, DVM, CertAqV, Texas State Aquarium

Last full review/revision Oct 2021

Initial emergency support of amphibians includes providing fluid treatment, oxygen, and an environment of proper temperature and humidity. Placing the patient in a shallow bowl of isotonic or slightly hypotonic fluid enables transdermal uptake. Amphibian Ringer’s solution (6.6 g NaCl, 0.15 g KCl, 0.15 g CaCl2, 0.2 g NaHCO3 in 1 L of distilled water) is effective; alternatively, a solution of equal parts 2.5% dextrose in 0.45% sodium chloride and lactated Ringer’s may be more readily available and can be used. Coelomic, IV, or interosseus fluids may be administered 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 intracoelomically, q 12–24 h), organophosphate toxicity (atropine, 0.1 mg/kg, SC or IM as needed), and thiamine deficiency (vitamin B1 25–100 mg/kg, IM or intracoelomically, as needed). If sepsis is suspected, antimicrobial administration (eg, enrofloxacin 5–10 mg/kg/day, PO, SC, IM, or intracoelomically) should be initiated.

Treatment for traumatic injuries is directed at minimizing blood loss, providing fluid treatment 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 treatment.

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