Selected clinical, biochemical, and electrolyte alterations in anesthetized captive tigers (Panthera tigris) and lions (Panthera leo)

J Zoo Wildl Med. 2014 Jun;45(2):328-34. doi: 10.1638/2013-0202R.1.


A prospective study to assess changes in selected plasma biochemistry and electrolyte values, plasma insulin and aldosterone concentrations, and electrocardiography (ECG) was performed on eight female captive tigers (Panthera tigris) and three lions (Panthera leo) undergoing general anesthesia for elective laparoscopic ovariectomy. Each animal was sedated with medetomidine (18-25 microg/kg) and midazolam (0.06-0.1 mg/kg) intramuscularly, and anesthesia was induced with ketamine (1.9-3.5 mg/kg) intramuscularly and maintained with isoflurane. Venous blood samples were collected and analyzed for plasma biochemistry parameters and insulin and aldosterone concentrations. An ECG was recorded at the time of each blood sample collection. Mean plasma potassium, glucose, phosphorus, and aldosterone concentrations increased during anesthesia (P < or = 0.05). One tiger developed hyperkalemia (6.5 mmol/L) 2.5 hr after anesthetic induction. Plasma insulin concentrations were initially below the low end of the domestic cat reference interval (72-583 pmol/L), but mean insulin concentration increased (P < or = 0.05) over time compared with the baseline values. Three tigers and two lions had ECG changes that were representative of myocardial hypoxemia. Based on these results, continuous monitoring of clinical and biochemical alterations during general anesthesia in large nondomestic felids is warranted, and consideration should be given to reversal of medetomidine in these animals should significant changes in electrolytes or ECG occur.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia, General / veterinary*
  • Animals
  • Electrolytes / blood*
  • Female
  • Lions / blood*
  • Reference Values
  • Tigers / blood*


  • Electrolytes