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Anesthetic Drugs: Rats and Mice



Injection Anesthesia



Introduction


Historically, injectable drugs have been popularly used for anesthesia of rodents because they are inexpensive, avoid the technical demands of gas anesthesia, and have been generally safe, effective, and easy to administer. However, disadvantages attendant to anesthesia by injection include the lack of precision in controlling anesthetic depth, prolonged recovery time, and physiologic changes such as hypotension, hypercarbemia, and hypoxemia. For uncomplicated procedures involving healthy animals, these drawbacks may not be of consequence, but their safety and predictability when used in ill animals is not known. The table below lists recommended anesthetics, combination regimens and doses. Users are cautioned against making broad and general assumptions about the applicability of certain regimens to species for which a regimen is not given or of concocting new combinations of drugs.



Recommended Injectable Agents and Doses for Laboratory Mice
Injectable combinations
Drug Dose (mg/kg unless noted) Route Duration Notes
Ketamine + Xylazine 80-100 + 5-10 IP 20-30 min Mix in same syringe. Xylazine can be reversed with atipamezole or yohimbine, and also has some analgesic properties. If redosing is required to prolong anesthesia, give an additional 1/4-1/2 of the ketamine dose only.
Ketamine + xylazine + acepromazine 80-100 + 5-10 + 3 IP 30-40 min Mix in same syringe. A variety of doses are reported in the literature
Ketamine + dexmedetomidine 50-75 + 0.5-1 IP 20-30 min Not as widely used as ketamine/xylazine. May not produce deep surgical anesthesia. Mix in same syringe. Dexmedetomidine can be reversed with atipamezole, and also has some analgesic properties. If redosing is required to prolong anesthesia, give an additional 1/4-1/2 of the ketamine dose only.
Pentobarbital 40-50 IP 20-40 min Narrow margin of safety. May cause significant cardiorespiratory depression and hypotension. Pharmaceutical grade is not readily available.
   
Reversal agents        
Drug Dose (mg/kg unless noted) Route Duration Notes
Atipamezole 0.5-1 IP, IV, SC N/A Preferred reversal agent. Reverses xylazine and dexmedetomidine (both anesthetic and analgesic effects)
Yohimbine 0.2 IP, IV N/A Reverses xylazine (both anesthetic and analgesic effects)
* adapted with modifications from Flecknell et al. 2015. Preanesthesia, Anesthesia, Analgesia, and Euthanasia. In: Anderson, Otto, Pritchett-Corning, Wary,and Fox. (Eds.), Laboratory Animal Medicine, third ed. Elsevier/ Academic Press, New York, NY, pp. 1135-1200.
Recommended Injectable Agents and Doses for Laboratory Rats
Injectable combinations
Drug Dose (mg/kg unless noted) Route Duration Notes
Ketamine + Xylazine 40-80 + 5-10 IP 20-40 min Mix in same syringe. Xylazine can be reversed with atipamezole or yohimbine, and also has some analgesic properties. If redosing is required to prolong anesthesia, give an additional 1/4-1/2 of the ketamine dose only.
Ketamine + xylazine + acepromazine 40-50 + 2.5-8 + 0.75-4 IP 20-30 min Mix in same syringe. A variety of doses are reported in the literature
Ketamine + dexmedetomidine 60-75 + 0.25 IP 20-30 min Not as widely used as ketamine/xylazine. May not produce deep surgical anesthesia. Mix in same syringe. Dexmedetomidine can be reversed with atipamezole, and also has some analgesic properties. If redosing is required to prolong anesthesia, give an additional 1/4-1/2 of the ketamine dose only.
Pentobarbital 30-60 IP 20-60 min Narrow margin of safety. May cause significant cardiorespiratory depression and hypotension. Pharmaceutical grade is not readily available.
   
Reversal agents        
Drug Dose (mg/kg unless noted) Route Duration Notes
Atipamezole 0.5-1 IP, IV, SC N/A Preferred reversal agent. Reverses xylazine and dexmedetomidine (both anesthetic and analgesic effects)
Yohimbine 0.2 IP, IV N/A Reverses xylazine (both anesthetic and analgesic effects)
* adapted with modifications from Flecknell et al. 2015. Preanesthesia, Anesthesia, Analgesia, and Euthanasia. In: Anderson, Otto, Pritchett-Corning, Wary,and Fox. (Eds.), Laboratory Animal Medicine, third ed. Elsevier/ Academic Press, New York, NY, pp. 1135-1200.