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  • Author or Editor: Joanna K. Webb x
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Bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps), a popular zoological companion species, frequently require sedation for procedures. A novel formulation of alfaxalone with preservatives was FDA approved for 28-day use after the vial is breached. Research has been performed in squamate species using alfaxalone without preservatives at various doses and routes of administration, but it is unknown whether preservatives affect quality of sedation or cardiac function.


10 bearded dragons.


This complete crossover study evaluated the pharmacodynamic effects of alfaxalone with preservatives administered to bearded dragons via intracoelomic (ICo; n = 10), SC (10), IM (9), and IV (9) injection at 15 mg/kg.


Deep sedation was achieved in 9 of 10 ICo, 8 of 10 SC, 8 of 9 IM, and 9 of 9 IV administrations. Heart rate significantly decreased from baseline for ICo (P = .008; median heart rate, 46), IM (P = .018; 54), and IV (P = .033; 54) routes, but maintained within clinically acceptable limits. Respiratory rate significantly decreased from baseline for ICo (P = .011; median respiratory rate, 30), SC (P = .024; 12), IM (P = .028; 12), and IV (P = .043; 12) routes. Spontaneous ventilation was retained during all events. Time to first effects was significantly sooner with IV (0 min) administration compared with ICo (P = .02; 5 min) and IM (P = .008; 5 min). Time to loss and recovery of withdrawal, righting reflex, deep pain, and purposeful movement were not significantly different between routes of administration. End-systolic volume was the only echocardiographic parameter significantly affected by IV sedation.


Sedation quality was most consistent via IV administration at 15 mg/kg, and minimal changes in cardiac function were observed.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association



A 12-year-old sexually intact male zoo-managed Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) was evaluated for a 3-day history of vomiting, hyporexia, and lethargy. Radiographs were supportive of gastrointestinal obstruction, and an exploratory laparotomy was performed.


Diffuse tan foci were present on the liver parenchyma, and the tiger became icteric throughout the procedure. Hepatic histopathology and immunohistochemistry resulted in a diagnosis of leptospirosis. Serum microagglutination testing for Leptospira spp antibody titers were positive for L kirschneri serovar Grippotyphosa, rising from 1:400 to 1:3,200 in 2 days.


The tiger was treated with antimicrobials, ursodiol, and mirtazapine, and increased biosecurity measures were instituted. Free-ranging wildlife on grounds were trapped, euthanized, and submitted for necropsy to screen for disease vectors. The tiger’s urine was intermittently opportunistically collected from the enclosure and remained PCR assay negative for Leptospira spp until being positive once again on day 595. Although the tiger was without clinical signs at that time, antimicrobial therapy and increased biosecurity protocols were instituted a second time until urinary Leptospira shedding was confirmed to have stopped. By 1,071 days after initial presentation, the tiger remained nonclinical, with no additional urinary shedding episodes.


While domestic and nondomestic free-ranging felids have been reported as subclinical Leptospira spp carriers, this report indicates the clinical importance of leptospirosis when a tiger presents with generalized gastrointestinal signs and icterus. Due to the zoonotic potential, biosecurity measures are necessary. This patient had a clinically successful outcome with antimicrobial therapy and supportive care.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association