Relationship between plasma dexmedetomidine concentration and sedation score and thermal threshold in cats

Am J Vet Res. 2014 May;75(5):446-52. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.75.5.446.


Objective: To characterize the relationship between plasma dexmedetomidine concentration and the temperature difference between the thermal threshold and skin temperature (ΔT) and between plasma dexmedetomidine concentration and sedation score in healthy cats.

Animals: 5 healthy adult spayed female cats.

Procedures: Cats received IV administrations of saline (0.9% NaCl) solution, dexmedetomidine (5, 20, or 50 μg/kg), or acepromazine (0.1 mg/kg). Blood samples were collected and thermal threshold and sedation score were determined before and at various times up to 8 hours after drug administration. In addition, cats received an IV infusion of dexmedetomidine that targeted a concentration achieving 99% of the maximum effect on ΔT.

Results: No change in ΔT over time was found for the saline solution and acepromazine treatments; ΔT increased for 45 minutes when cats received dexmedetomidine at 5 and 20 μg/kg and for 180 minutes when cats received dexmedetomidine at 50 μg/kg. No change in sedation score over time was found for saline solution. Sedation score increased for 120 minutes after cats received acepromazine and for 60, 120, and 180 minutes after cats received dexmedetomidine at 5, 20, and 50 μg/kg, respectively. The plasma dexmedetomidine concentration-effect relationships for the effect on ΔT and sedation score were almost identical. The plasma dexmedetomidine concentration after infusion was lower than targeted, and ΔT was not significantly affected.

Conclusions and clinical relevance: Dexmedetomidine administration to cats resulted in thermal analgesia and also profound sedation. These data may be useful for predicting the course of thermal analgesia and sedation after dexmedetomidine administration to cats.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acepromazine / administration & dosage
  • Analgesia / methods
  • Analgesia / veterinary*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Deep Sedation / methods
  • Deep Sedation / veterinary*
  • Dexmedetomidine / administration & dosage
  • Dexmedetomidine / blood
  • Dexmedetomidine / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / blood
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / pharmacology*
  • Pain Threshold / drug effects*
  • Skin Temperature / drug effects*
  • Time Factors


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Acepromazine
  • Dexmedetomidine