Sedative, Cardiorespiratory and Thermoregulatory Effects of Alfaxalone on Budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus)
2018 Joint EAZWV/AAZV/Leibniz-IZW Conference
Jon Romano1*, DVM; Eric Klaphake3, DVM, DABVP (Avian), DACZM, DABVP (Amphibian/Reptile); Kayla Hassa2, BS; Wren Abbott2, BA; Matthew Johnston2, VMD, DABVP (Avian)
1Capron Park Zoo, Attleboro, MA, USA; 2Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA; 3Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs, CO, USA


Alfaxalone (Alfaxan®, Jurox (UK) Ltd., Crawley, West Sussex RH10 1DD, UK), is a neurosteroid anesthetic, that has been extensively used in both human and veterinary medicine for more than 50 years.5 Previous studies involving avian species demonstrated various dose ranges and multiple routes of administration.1-8 The aim of this study was to evaluate the short-term sedative, cardiorespiratory, and thermoregulatory effects of an intramuscular injection of alfaxalone on budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus). A cross-over study was performed with a sample size of 10 male budgerigars, previously determined to be healthy based upon physical exam. Alfaxalone was administered at doses of 15 mg/kg and 20 mg/kg. The quality of sedation was based upon a predetermined scale evaluating muscle relaxation, response to a noxious stimulus, and glottal tone. Heart rate, respiratory rate, core body temperature, and body temperature based upon thermographic imaging were also recorded. Mild to moderate sedation was achieved at 15 mg/kg, lasting approximately 29.01±5.27 minutes, whereas moderate to profound sedation was achieved at 20 mg/kg, lasting approximately 29.38±6.70 minutes. A statistically significant decrease in heart rate and respiratory rate was observed 2 minutes post-injection; however, this finding was noted to be transient. Core body temperature and thermography demonstrated a statistically significant decrease in both studies. Intramuscular use of alfaxalone proved to be a suitable form of short-term sedation in budgerigars, with minimal cardiorespiratory effects. Due to significant decreases in body temperature, supplemental heating is recommended when using alfaxalone in budgerigars.


The authors would like to thank the keepers and hospital staff of Cheyenne Mountain Zoo for their assistance during this study.

Literature Cited

1.  Bailey TA, Toosi A, Samour JH. Anaesthesia of cranes with alphaxolone-alphadolone. Vet Rec. 1999;145(3):84–85.

2.  Baldrey V. Assessment of alfaxalone as an anaesthetic agent in mute swans (Cygnus olor). Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) Diploma in Zoological Medicine (DZooMed) thesis, 2014. Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

3.  Curtis R, Jemmett JE, Hendy PG. Saffan (CT 1341) as an anaesthetic agent for the budgerigar Melopsittacus undulatus. J Small Anim Pract. 1977;18(7):465–472.

4.  Hawkins MG, Barron HW, Speer BL, Pollock C, Carpenter JW. Chemical restraint/anesthetic/analgesia agents used in birds. In: Carpenter JW, ed. Exotic Animal Formulary. 4th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Inc.; 2013:256–276.

5.  Jones KL. Therapeutic review: alfaxalone. J Exot Pet Med. 2012;21(4):347–353.

6.  Machin KL, Caulkett NA. Investigation of injectable anesthetic agents in mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos): a descriptive study. J Avian Med Surg. 1998;12(4):255–262.

7.  Perrin KL, Nielsen JB, Thomsen AF, Bertelsen MF. Alfaxalone anesthesia in the Bengalese finch (Lonchura domestica). J Zoo Wildl Med. 2017;48(4):1146–1153.

8.  Villaverde-Morcillo S, Benito J, García-Sánchez R, Martín-Jurado O, Gómez de Segura IA. Comparison of isoflurane and alfaxalone (Alfaxan) for the induction of anesthesia in flamingos (Phoenicopterus roseus) undergoing orthopedic surgery. J Zoo Wildl Med. 2014;45(2):361–366.


Speaker Information
(click the speaker's name to view other papers and abstracts submitted by this speaker)

Jon Romano, DVM
Capron Park Zoo
Attleboro, MA, USA

MAIN : Anaesthesia : Effects of Alfaxalone on Budgerigars
Powered By VIN