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Comparative study on the sedative effects of morphine, methadone, butorphanol or tramadol, in combination with acepromazine, in dogs


Eduardo Raposo Monteiro, Cesumar-Hospital Veterinário, Av. Guedner 1610 - Zona 8 -87050-900, Maringá, PR, Brazil. E-mail:


Objective  To compare the effects of morphine (MOR), methadone (MET), butorphanol (BUT) and tramadol (TRA), in combination with acepromazine, on sedation, cardiorespiratory variables, body temperature and incidence of emesis in dogs.

Study design  Prospective randomized, blinded, experimental trial.

Animals  Six adult mixed-breed male dogs weighing 12.0 ± 4.3 kg.

Methods  Dogs received intravenous administration (IV) of acepromazine (0.05 mg kg−1) and 15 minutes later, one of four opioids was randomly administered IV in a cross-over design, with at least 1-week intervals. Dogs then received MOR 0.5 mg kg−1; MET 0.5 mg kg−1; BUT 0.15 mg kg−1; or TRA 2.0 mg kg−1. Indirect systolic arterial pressure (SAP), heart rate (HR), respiratory rate (fR), rectal temperature, pedal withdrawal reflex and sedation were evaluated at regular intervals for 90 minutes.

Results  Acepromazine administration decreased SAP, HR and temperature and produced mild sedation. All opioids further decreased temperature and MOR, BUT and TRA were associated with further decreases in HR. Tramadol decreased SAP whereas BUT decreased fR compared with values before opioid administration. Retching was observed in five of six dogs and vomiting occurred in one dog in MOR, but not in any dog in the remaining treatments. Sedation scores were greater in MET followed by MOR and BUT. Tramadol was associated with minor changes in sedation produced by acepromazine alone.

Conclusions and clinical relevance  When used with acepromazine, MET appears to provide better sedation than MOR, BUT and TRA. If vomiting is to be avoided, MET, BUT and TRA may be better options than MOR.