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Keywords:

  • alfaxalone;
  • anesthesia;
  • pharmacodynamics;
  • reptile;
  • Trachemys scripta elegans ;
  • turtle

Abstract

Objective

This study compares the pharmacodynamics of two different doses of alfaxalone administered intramuscularly (IM) to red-eared sliders at two ambient temperatures.

Study design

Prospective blinded crossover experimental study.

Animals

Nine adult female sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans).

Methods

Following a 2-week acclimation at 22–25 °C, nine sliders were randomly assigned to receive alfaxalone, 10 mg kg−1 (W10), or 20 mg kg−1 (W20) IM. Each turtle received each dose, with a minimum 7-day washout period. A blinded observer evaluated heart rate (HR), palpebral and corneal reflexes, muscle relaxation, handling, and response to toe pinch at the following points: pre-injection, and 5, 12, 20, 30, 45, 60, and 120 minutes post-injection. Turtles then acclimated to 18–20 °C for 63 days, and the experiment was repeated in this lower-temperature environment, with treatment groups C10 (alfaxalone 10 mg kg−1) and C20 (alfaxalone 20 mg kg−1) subjected to the same crossover design.

Results

C10 and C20 groups had significantly lower intraanesthetic HR than W10 or W20, respectively. C10 and W20 were significantly more relaxed and easier to handle than W10. No significant differences were observed in palpebral reflex, nor responsiveness to the toe pinch stimulus. None of the turtles lost corneal reflex. W20 and C20 had prolonged recoveries, compared to low-dose groups within the same temperature environment. Recovery was also longer at C20 and C10 compared to W10.

Conclusions

Turtles given 10 mg kg−1 were more relaxed and easier to handle in cold than warm conditions. Warm turtles were more relaxed and easier to handle when given 20 mg kg−1 than those given 10 mg kg−1. Cold conditions correlated with lower HR and longer recovery time for each dose category.

Clinical relevance

The turtles had dose-dependent and inconsistent responses to alfaxalone. Lower ambient temperature augmented the behavioral effects of this drug.