Effects of medetomidine and medetomidine-butorphanol combination on Schirmer tear test 1 readings in dogs

Vet Ophthalmol. Jan-Feb 2006;9(1):33-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-5224.2005.00432.x.


Medetomidine is a commonly used sedative in veterinary medicine whether administered alone or in combination with an opioid such as butorphanol. There are no previous studies that look at the effects of this drug on sequential Schirmer tear test (STT) 1 readings in dogs, including effects on tear production after reversal of the drug. The present study looked at two groups of 10 dogs each that were sedated with intravenous medetomidine or a combination of medetomidine and butorphanol. All dogs had tear readings taken presedation, 15 min postsedation, and 15 min after reversal of medetomidine with atipamezole. Results revealed that intravenous sedation with medetomidine and medetomidine-butorphanol in dogs with no history of ophthalmic disease and presedation STT 1 readings above 15 mm/min, causes a significant decrease in tear production that is measurable at 15 min postsedation. Readings returned to near presedation values within 15 min postreversal in most cases. It is therefore recommended that all eyes be treated with a tear substitute from the time the sedative is given until at least 15 min after reversal.

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Butorphanol / adverse effects
  • Butorphanol / pharmacology*
  • Dogs / physiology*
  • Drug Combinations
  • Female
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / adverse effects
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Medetomidine / adverse effects
  • Medetomidine / pharmacology*
  • Tears* / drug effects
  • Tears* / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Drug Combinations
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Medetomidine
  • Butorphanol