Merck Manual

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Analgesics, Sedatives, and Anesthetics Used in Reptiles

Analgesics, Sedatives, and Anesthetics Used in Reptiles

Drug

Dose and Route

Comments

Morphine

1.5 mg/kg, IM, SC

10 mg/kg, IM, SC

Chelonians (red-eared sliders)

Lizards (bearded dragons)

Not analgesic for snakes. Causes pronounced respiratory depression in turtles.

Hydromorphone

0.5 mg/kg, IM, SC

Chelonians: appears to cause less respiratory depression than morphine

Tramadol

5 mg/kg/day, PO, SC;

10 mg/kg, PO, every 4 days

Chelonians (red-eared sliders); less respiratory depression than morphine

Butorphanol

20 mg/kg, SC

Snakes (cornsnakes) at high doses. Not analgesic for bearded dragons or red-eared sliders. May cause respiratory depression, and high-dose volume may be impractical. May be able to partially antagonize opiate agonists like morphine.

Meloxicam

0.2 mg/kg, IV, IM, SC, every 24–48 hr

Ketamine

10–40 mg/kg, IM

40–60 mg/kg, IM

Sedation, prolonged hangover effects

Deeper sedation but not sufficient for painful procedures and care in debilitated individuals

Ketamine 10 mg/kg, combined with medetomidine 0.1–0.2 mg/kg (or dexmedetomidine 0.05–0.1 mg/kg) and morphine 1.5 mg/kg or hydromorphone 0.5 mg/kg, IM (or 50% dose, IV)

Deep sedation/anesthesia in many chelonians. Reversed using atipamezole (0.5 mg/kg, IM) and, if necessary, naloxone (0.2 mg/kg, IM)

Midazolam

2 mg/kg, IM

Premedication, or can be given with ketamine to increase sedative effects or promote similar effects at lower ketamine doses.

Dexmedetomidine

0.05–0.1 mg/kg, IV or IM

Often used in combination with ketamine and opiates as a sedative to light anesthetic. Useful when IV access is difficult.

Atipamezole

10 × mg dose of dexmedetomidine, IM

Used to reverse dexmedetomidine

Tiletamine/zolazepam

3–12 mg/kg, IM

Tortoises, lizards, snakes. Low dose useful to facilitate intubation. Higher doses associated with prolonged recoveries.

Propofol

3–10 mg/kg, IV, intraosseous

Low dose rate for larger reptiles. Subanesthetic doses produce variable short-term sedation.

Alfaxalone

5–10 mg/kg, IV

10–20 mg/kg, IM

Similar effects to those of propofol IV, but higher doses effective IM. Larger IM dose volumes may warrant dividing into two or more injections.

Isoflurane

1%–5%

Routine gaseous agent; subanesthetic levels provide short-term sedation. Mask down or conscious (sedated) intubation possible in some species.

Sevoflurane

2%–7%

Very similar effects to those of isoflurane but recoveries appear to be faster. Preferred agent for critical or large reptiles.