Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. Such drugs are used to relieve acute visceral and musculoskeletal signs of pain (including signs of pain associated with trauma) and chronic signs of pain (from conditions such as arthritis) and to decrease inflammation and central nervous sensitization associated with surgery.1–3 Although NSAIDs are considered effective for treatment of signs of chronic pain in birds, few studies have been conducted to investigate this. Meloxicam is one of the most frequently prescribed NSAIDs for companion birds because of ease of administration; oral and injectable formulations of this drug are commercially available in concentrations appropriate for use in small patients. Meloxicam is an enolic acid derivative that is a COX-2–preferential NSAID.4,5 Cyclooxgenase-2 is an inducible enzyme expressed by cells in response to inflammatory mediators and is constitutively expressed in the kidneys.6,7 At high doses, meloxicam can also inhibit COX-1 in mammals, leading to decreased production of prostaglandins required for physiologic functions.4,5 Substantial differences may exist regarding relative COX-1 and COX-2 selectivities of certain NSAIDs among species of animals and differences in drug selectivity for these COX isoforms in vivo and in vitro.1
In birds, toxic effects of NSAIDs include renal effects leading to increased plasma uric acid concentrations and development of glomerular lesions.8–10 Renal function in animals of most species involves prostaglandin-mediated regulation of vascular tone and blood flow. Prostaglandins aid regulation of renal blood flow during conditions that decrease circulating blood volume or systemic blood pressure (eg, anesthesia); NSAIDs may interfere with such regulation, resulting in decreased renal blood flow during those conditions.5,11 In adult and embryonic chickens, COX-1 and COX-2 are expressed in many tissues including the kidneys, but functions of these enzymes in such animals are not completely known.6,7,12,13 High mortality rates in populations of Oriental white-backed vultures (Gyps bengalensis) ingesting diclofenac-treated carrion are associated with renal tubular necrosis and visceral gout.9,10,14–17 Results of another study18 indicate quail of one species (Colinus virginianus) develop glomerular lesions following 7 days of administration of various doses of flunixin meglumine. In pigeons, repeated IM injection of carprofen is associated with increased circulating AST and alanine aminotransferase enzyme activities, gross lesions in muscle injection sites and liver tissue, histopathologic lesions in liver and muscle tissue, and acute vascular congestion in renal tissue.19 Budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) that receive a high dose (5.5 mg/kg) of flunixin meglumine for 3 to 7 days develop renal lesions of greater severity than do budgerigars that receive low doses of flunixin meglumine.8 In that study, plasma uric acid concentrations in budgerigars receiving meloxicam at a dosage of 0.1 mg/kg, every 24 hours, for 3 to 7 days, were not significantly different from those in budgerigars receiving a control treatment. Histopathologic renal tubular degeneration lesions were detected in 1 of 16 budgerigars that received meloxicam, and glomerular congestion developed in 1 of 16 control-treated and 2 of 16 meloxicam-treated budgerigars.8 In another study,20 administration of meloxicam at a dosage of 0.5 mg/kg twice daily for 14 days to African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) did not cause any abnormalities in the blood biochemical analysis variables evaluated, and histopathologic evaluation of renal biopsy specimens did not reveal any abnormalities for 9 of the 10 birds in the study.
The analgesic effect of meloxicam in birds has been recently investigated. In 1 study,21 analgesic effects of IM-administered meloxicam in Hispaniolan Amazon parrots (Amazona ventralis) with experimentally induced arthritis were evaluated. The highest dose of meloxicam evaluated (1 mg/kg) in that study21 provided the most effective analgesia. That dose of meloxicam is higher than doses used in other studies8,20 in which adverse effects of meloxicam on renal function and histopathologic findings for psittacines were evaluated. The purpose of the study reported here was to determine the effect of a high dose of meloxicam (2 mg/kg, IM) on hematologic, plasma biochemical, and histologic findings for Japanese quail (Coturnixjaponica).
Layena, Purina Mills, St Louis, Mo.
Microtainer, BD, Franklin Lakes, NJ.
Hematology Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, Calif.
Cryogen, Globe Scientific, Paramus, NJ.
Abaxis VetScan Avian/Reptile Rotor, Abaxis VetScan, Union City, Calif.
Metacam, Boehringer-Ingelheim Inc, St Joseph, Mo.
Hospira, Lake Forest, Ill.
Torbutrol, Fort Dodge Animal Health, Fort Dodge, Iowa.
Attane, Piramal Critical Care Inc, Bethlehem, Pa.
Vetwrap, 3M, Saint Paul, Minn.
Marcaine, AstraZeneca, Wilmington, Del.
Karl Storz, Goleta, Calif.
PDS, Ethicon, Somerville, NJ.
Hospira, Lake Forest, Ill.
Beuthanasia-D, Schering-Plough Animal Health, Summit, NJ.
SPSS, IBM, Somers, NY.
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