Sedative, Cardiorespiratory and Thermoregulatory Effects of Alfaxalone on Budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus)
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.
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