After intravenous (i.v.) injection, acepromazine was distributed widely in the horse (Vd= 6.6 litres/kg) and bound extensively (>99%) to plasma proteins. Plasma levels of the drug declined with an α phase half-life of 4.2 min, while the β phase or elimination half-life was 184.8 min. At a dosage level of 0.3 mg/kg acepromazine was detectable in the plasma for 8 h post dosing. The whole blood partitioning of acepromazine was 46% in the plasma phase and 54% in the erythrocyte phase.
Penile prolapse was clearly evident at doses from 0.01 mg/kg to 0.4 mg/kg i.v., and the duration and extent of protrusion were dose related. Hematocrit levels were significantly lowered by administration of 0.002 mg/kg i.v. (about 1 mg to a 500 kg horse) and increasing dosages resulted in greater than 20% lowering of the hematocrit from control levels. Pretreatment of horses with acepromazine also reduced the variable interval (VI 60) responding rate in all horses tested.
These data show that hematocrit changes are the most sensitive pharmacological responses to acepromazine, followed by changes in penile extension, respiratory rate, VI responding and locomotor responses. Acepromazine is difficult to detect in plasma at normal clinical doses. However, because of its large volume of distribution, its urinary elimination is likely prolonged, and further work on its elimination in equine urine is required.