Webb, J. K., Keller, K. A., Chinnadurai, S. K. et al. 2023. Use of alfaxalone in bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps): Optimizing pharmacodynamics and evaluating cardiogenic effects via echocardiography. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 261(1), 126–131.

OBJECTIVE Bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps), a popular zoological companion species, frequently require sedation for procedures. A novel formulation of alfaxalone with preservatives was FDA approved for 28-day use after the vial is breached. Research has been performed in squamate species using alfaxalone without preservatives at various doses and routes of administration, but it is unknown whether preservatives affect quality of sedation or cardiac function. ANIMALS 10 bearded dragons. PROCEDURES This complete crossover study evaluated the pharmacodynamic effects of alfaxalone with preservatives administered to bearded dragons via intracoelomic (ICo; n = 10), SC (10), IM (9), and IV (9) injection at 15 mg/kg. RESULTS Deep sedation was achieved in 9 of 10 ICo, 8 of 10 SC, 8 of 9 IM, and 9 of 9 IV administrations. Heart rate significantly decreased from baseline for ICo (P = .008; median heart rate, 46), IM (P = .018; 54), and IV (P = .033; 54) routes, but maintained within clinically acceptable limits. Respiratory rate significantly decreased from baseline for ICo (P = .011; median respiratory rate, 30), SC (P = .024; 12), IM (P = .028; 12), and IV (P = .043; 12) routes. Spontaneous ventilation was retained during all events. Time to first effects was significantly sooner with IV (0 min) administration compared with ICo (P = .02; 5 min) and IM (P = .008; 5 min). Time to loss and recovery of withdrawal, righting reflex, deep pain, and purposeful movement were not significantly different between routes of administration. End-systolic volume was the only echocardiographic parameter significantly affected by IV sedation. CLINICAL RELEVANCE Sedation quality was most consistent via IV administration at 15 mg/kg, and minimal changes in cardiac function were observed.

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