• horse;
  • exercise;
  • sedation;
  • detomidine;
  • pharmacokinetics


Reason for performing study: Increased doses of detomidine are required to produce sedation in horses after maximal exercise compared to calm or resting horses.

Objectives: To determine if the pharmacokinetics of detomidine in Thoroughbred horses are different when the drug is given during recuperation from a brief period of maximal exercise compared to administration at rest.

Methods: Six Thoroughbred horses were preconditioned by exercising them on a treadmill. Each horse ran a simulated race at a treadmill speed that caused it to exercise at 120% of its maximal oxygen consumption. One minute after the end of exercise, horses were treated with detomidine. Each horse was treated with the same dose of detomidine on a second occasion a minimum of 14 days later while standing in a stocks. Samples of heparinised blood were obtained at various time points on both occasions. Plasma detomidine concentrations were determined by liquid chromatographymass spectrometry. The plasma concentration vs. time data were analysed by nonlinear regression analysis.

Results: Median back-extrapolated time zero plasma concentration was significantly lower and median plasma half-life and median mean residence time were significantly longer when detomidine was administered after exercise compared to administration at rest. Median volume of distribution was significantly higher after exercise but median plasma clearance was not different between the 2 administrations.

Conclusions and potential relevance: Detomidine i.v. is more widely distributed when administered to horses immediately after exercise compared to administration at rest resulting in lower peak plasma concentrations and a slower rate of elimination. The dose requirement to produce an equivalent effect may be higher in horses after exercise than in resting horses and less frequent subsequent doses may be required to produce a sustained effect.