Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of intravenous continuous rate infusion and repeated intramuscular administration of dexmedetomidine in standing horses

J Vet Pharmacol Ther. 2021 Jul;44(4):533-543. doi: 10.1111/jvp.12951. Epub 2021 Feb 12.


An ideal dexmedetomidine protocol has yet to be determined for standing sedation in horses. It was hypothesized that an IV bolus followed by CRI dexmedetomidine would have a quicker increase in plasma concentrations compared with repeated IM injections. In a crossover design, eight adult, female horses were randomly placed into two groups: the CRI group (IV bolus dexmedetomidine at 0.005 mg/kg followed by a CRI at 0.01 mg/kg/h for 15 min then 0.005 mg/kg/h for 60 min) and the IM group (dexmedetomidine at 0.01 mg/kg, followed by 0.005 mg/kg in 30-min intervals for 60 min). Clearance and elimination half-life were 134 ± 67.4 ml/kg/min and 44.3 ± 26.3 min, respectively, in the CRI group, and apparent clearance and half-life were 412 ± 306 ml/kg/min (Cl/F) and 38.9 ± 18.6 min, respectively, in the IM group. Analgesia was evaluated using mechanical pressure threshold. Intravenous dexmedetomidine produced faster onset of sedation and increased pressure threshold compared with IM administration. Individual horses had a large variability in dexmedetomidine plasma concentrations between CRI and IM administration. The odds of a decreased GI motility following IV administration was 12.34 times greater compared with IM administration.

Keywords: dexmedetomidine; equine; intramuscular; intravenous; pharmacokinetics.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous / veterinary
  • Animals
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dexmedetomidine*
  • Female
  • Horses
  • Infusions, Intravenous / veterinary
  • Injections, Intravenous / veterinary


  • Dexmedetomidine