Objective - To determine the pharmacokinetics of butorphanol tartrate after IV and IM single-dose administration in red-tailed hawks (RTHs) and great horned owls (GHOs). Animals - 6 adult RTHs and 6 adult GHOs. Procedures - Each bird received an injection of butorphanol (0.5 mg/kg) into either the right jugular vein (IVj) or the pectoral muscles in a crossover study (1-week interval between treatments). The GHOs also later received butorphanol (0.5 mg/kg) via injection into a medial metatarsal vein (IVm). During each 24-hour postinjection period, blood samples were collected from each bird; plasma butorphanol concentrations were determined via liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Results - 2- and 1-compartment models best fit the IV and IM pharmacokinetic data, respectively, in both species. Terminal half-lives of butorphanol were 0.94 ± 0.30 hours (IVj) and 0.94 ± 0.26 hours (IM) for RTHs and 1.79 ± 1.36 hours (IVj), 1.84 ± 1.56 hours (IM), and 1.19 ± 0.34 hours (IVm) for GHOs. In GHOs, area under the curve (0 to infinity) for butorphanol after IVj or IM administration exceeded values in RTHs; GHO values after IM and IVm administration were less than those after IVj administration. Plasma butorphanol clearance was significantly more rapid in the RTHs. Bioavailability of butorphanol administered IM was 97.6 ± 33.2% (RTHs) and 88.8 ± 4.8% (GHOs). Conclusions and clinical relevance - In RTHs and GHOs, butorphanol was rapidly absorbed and distributed via all routes of administration; the drug's rapid terminal half-life indicated that published dosing intervals for birds may be inadequate in RTHs and GHOs.
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