Evaluation of Thermal Antinociceptive Effects of Buprenorphine Hydrochloride in Cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus)
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2014
David Sanchez-Migallon Guzman1, LV, MS, DECZM (Avian), DACZM; Emma Houck1; Hugues Beaufrere2, Dr. Med Vet, PhD, DABVP (Avian), DECZM (Avian); Joanne Paul-Murphy1, DVM, DACZM, DACAW
1Department of Veterinary Medicine and Epidemiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA; 2Health Sciences Center, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada


Buprenorphine hydrochloride, a semisynthetic partial mu opioid receptor agonist, has shown thermal antinociceptive properties in American kestrels (Falco sparverius) in a recent study.2 The antinociceptive properties of buprenorphine have not been fully determined in psittacines, and have only been evaluated in a study using electrical stimulus in African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus erithacus and Psittacus erithacus timneh) which did not show significant effects.3 Cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus), the most common companion bird kept in U.S. households,1 were selected (n=16) for this blinded, within-subjects, complete crossover study with four periods, assigning them randomly to four treatment groups. The four treatments consisted of intramuscular administration of buprenorphine hydrochloride (0.6, 1.2, and 1.8 mg/kg; Buprenex®, 0.3mg/ml, Reckitt Benckiser Healthcare Ltd. Dansom Lane Hull, England HU8 7DS) and saline (0.9%NaCl, Hospira Inc., Lake Forest, IL 60045 USA). Foot withdrawal response to a thermal noxious stimulus was determined before treatment and 0.5, 1.5, 3, and 6 hours after treatment administration. Agitation-sedation scores were determined 1–3 minutes before each thermal stimulus. There was no significant difference in thermal withdrawal threshold between the three buprenorphine treatments and the saline treatment, and no dosages were found to produce a significant sedative effect. No significant effect of period, treatment order, or sex was found. Further studies investigating other types of stimulation, formulations, routes of administration, testing times, and pharmacokinetics are needed to fully determine the analgesic and adverse effects of buprenorphine in Psittaciformes and the use of buprenorphine in clinical settings.


This study was supported by the Richard M. Schubot Parrot Wellness and Welfare Program and the Center for Companion Animal Health at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis.

Literature Cited

1.  2011–2012 APPA National Pet Owners Survey. Greenwich, CT: American Pet Products Association.

2.  Ceulemans S, Sanchez-Migallon Guzman D, Drazenovich T, Olsen GH, Beaufrere H, Paul-Murphy J. Evaluation of the thermal antinociceptive effects after administration of intramuscular buprenorphine hydrochloride in American kestrels (Falco sparverius). In: Proceedings of the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians; 2013;105–106.

3.  Paul-Murphy JR, Brunson DB, Miletic V. Analgesic effects of butorphanol and buprenorphine in conscious African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus erithacus and Psittacus erithacus timneh). Am J Vet Res. 1999;60:1218–1221.


Speaker Information
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Emma Houck
Department of Veterinary Medicine and Epidemiology
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of California
Davis, CA, USA

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