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To evaluate skin perfusion in cats receiving dexmedetomidine compared to a placebo.


9 healthy adult research cats.


A randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled study design was used. Two sites, the dorsal metatarsus (site: limb) and lateral flank (site: flank), were evaluated with laser speckle contrast imaging (LSCI) at baseline and following administration of dexmedetomidine (1, 3, or 5 mcg/kg, IV) or a placebo (0.9% saline, IV). Mean speckle contrast (MSC), a surrogate for perfusion, was obtained from LSCI and compared between treatments. Heart rate, sedation score, and body temperature were recorded. Skin perfusion to the flank and limb, reported as MSC, was assessed via LSCI at baseline and at 5, 10, and 15 minutes posttreatment.


There was a significant decrease in heart rate (P < .001) in cats receiving 1, 3, and 5 mcg/kg dexmedetomidine compared to placebo. There was a significant increase in median sedation score at all time points postsedation compared to baseline (P < .018). Changes in MSC for the metatarsus were not significantly different between treatments at any time point (P = .12). For the flank, MSC was significantly higher for cats treated with dexmedetomidine compared to baseline (P ≤ .01). Skin perfusion to the flank decreased as early as 5 minutes posttreatment with dexmedetomidine and persisted for at least 15 minutes, regardless of dexmedetomidine dose.


Dexmedetomidine decreased skin perfusion in cats, even at low doses. Veterinarians may elect for an alternative sedative medication when decreased skin perfusion is a concern.

Open access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research