OBJECTIVE To evaluate thermal antinociceptive effects and pharmacokinetics of buprenorphine hydrochloride after IM administration to cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus). ANIMALS 16 adult (≥ 2 years old) cockatiels (8 males and 8 females). PROCEDURES Buprenorphine hydrochloride (0.3 mg/mL) at each of 3 doses (0.6, 1.2, and 1.8 mg/kg) and saline (0.9% NaCl) solution (control treatment) were administered IM to birds in a randomized within-subject complete crossover study. Foot withdrawal response to a thermal stimulus was determined before (baseline) and 0.5, 1.5, 3, and 6 hours after treatment administration. Agitation-sedation scores were also determined. For the pharmacokinetic analysis, buprenorphine (0.6 mg/kg) was administered IM to 12 of the birds, and blood samples were collected at 9 time points ranging from 5 minutes to 9 hours after drug administration. Samples were analyzed with liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry. Pharmacokinetic parameters were calculated with commercial software. RESULTS Buprenorphine at 0.6, 1.2, and 1.8 mg/kg did not significantly change the thermal foot withdrawal response, compared with the response for the control treatment. No significant change in agitation-sedation scores was detected between all doses of buprenorphine and the control treatment. Plasma buprenorphine concentrations were > 1 ng/mL in all 4 birds evaluated at 9 hours. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Buprenorphine at the doses evaluated did not significantly change the thermal nociceptive threshold for cockatiels or cause sedative or agitative effects. Additional studies with other pain assessments and drug doses are needed to evaluate the analgesic and adverse effects of buprenorphine in cockatiels and other avian species.
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